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PEOPLE, HISTORY 
& ASPIRATIONS 




W.M.PETROVITCH 



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CBSEL LIBRARY ,v f 

UNNERSmr Of CALIFORNIA. SAN DWK30 

LA JOLLA, CAUFOHNW WAYNE S. VUCINICH 



SERBIA 

HER PEOPLE HISTORY AND 
ASPIRATIONS 



HERO TALES W LEGENDS 
: : OF THE SERBIANS : : 

By WOISLAV M. PETROVITCH 

Attach/ to the Royal Serbian Legation to the 
Court oj St. James 

With a Preface by Cheuo MiYATOVlCH, 
formerly Serbian Minister in London, and 
Thirty- two Illustrations in Colour by 
William Sewell and Gilbert James. 
Size 6| x o£ in. 400 pages Letterpress. 
Bound in Cloth Extra, Gilt-top, with Design 
by Willy Pogany. Price 10s 6d net. 

This book contains much that will be new to 
English readers. The first chapter provides a 
brief historical risumi ; Chapter II deals with 
the customs and characteristics of the Serbians, 
and is absorbingly interesting ; following chapters 
reproduce the ancient ballads still sung by the 
bards to the peasantry, also attractive examples 
of the national folk-lore, etc. Mr. Petrovitch has 
been successful in retaining the quaint and rugged 
flavour of his originals, and he transports his 
English readers into a world of new ideas and 
emotions. The artists have aimed to catch the 
same spirit and their drawings appropriately 
illustrate the spirited text. 




His Majesty King Peter I of Serbia 



SERBIA 

HER PEOPLE HISTORY AND 
ASPIRATIONS 



BY 

WOISLAV M. PETROVITCH 

ATTACHE TO THE ROYAL SERBIAN LEGATION TO THE 

COURT OF ST. JAMES AUTHOR OF " HERO TALES 

AND LEGENDS OF THE SERBIANS " 



WITH FOUR PORTRAITS 



LONDON 

GEORGE G. HARRAP & COMPANY 

26-3 PORTSMOUTH STREET KINGSWAY W.C. 
1915 



~M\ 



TO 
MY DEAREST FRIEND IN ENGLAND 

Dr R. W. STARKIE 



Prinltd by Ballantyne, Hanson &* Co. Ltd., London, England 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE 7 

NATIONAL SERBIAN HYMN 15 

INTRODUCTION 17 

PART I : HISTORY 

I. EARLY HISTORY 39 

II. THE RISE TO GREATNESS 48 

III. THE YEARS OF BONDAGE 58 

IV. THE YEAR 1804 68 
V. MILOSH OBRENOVITCH 91 

VI. ALEXANDER KARAGEORGEVITCH 103 

VII. MICHAEL OBRENOVITCH 120 

VIII. MILAN OBRENOVITCH 131 

IX. THE REIGN OF KING ALEXANDER 147 

X. THE BOSNIAN AND MACEDONIAN 

QUESTIONS 154 

XI. THE FIRST BALKAN WAR 164 

XII. THE SECOND BALKAN WAR 178 

XIII. THE BREWING OF THE STORM 185 

XIV. THE ' PUNITIVE EXPEDITIONS ' 197 

5 



HISTORY OF SERBIA 

PART II : NATIONAL BELIEFS AND 
CUSTOMS 





PAGE 


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS 


213 


ANCIENT BELIEFS 


215 


THE SPREAD OF CHRISTIANITY 


235 


MARRIAGE 


241 


THE SLAVA 


254 


CHRISTMAS 


263 


OTHER FEAST DAYS 


272 


NATIONAL EPIC POETRY 


274 


MAP 


282 



PREFACE 

Just as the writer was concluding the his- 
torical retrospect which forms the bulk of 
this book/ a deputation of representatives of 
the Jugoslavs (i.e. the Serbs of Austria- 
Hungary, the Serbo-Croats and the Slovenes) 
arrived in London, and published a " Jugoslav 
Manifesto to the British Nation," which we 
reproduce here in its entirety, allowing this 
eloquent appeal to speak for itself. 

" Austria-Hungary and Germany have 
imposed upon the Southern Slav nation a 
fratricidal civil war. Eight million Southern 
Slavs (Jugoslavs) are condemned to fight 

1 The chief reason, besides the shattering defeats 
inflicted by Serbia on the Austrian armies, why military 
operations south of the Danube ceased in December 1914, 
and why this retrospect need go no further than that date, 
has recently been revealed by the publication of the 
Italian Green Book. On February 12 and 17 the Italian 
Foreign Office informed Austria that any military action 
on the part of that Power in the Balkans would be 
opposed by Italy until the conclusion of an agreement 
for compensation in accordance with Article VII of 
the Treaty of Alliance. 

7 



8 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
against their own brothers and liberators. 
Large numbers have been expelled from their 
native soil, or put to death, while the prisons 
are crowded with political victims. 

" To-day the Jugoslav people cannot give 
expression to its wishes ; its representative 
assemblies are closed, many of its deputies 
are in prison or subjected to a rigorous 
surveillance. 

" Those of our young men who succeeded 
in escaping are fighting in the ranks of the 
Serbian and Montenegrin Armies. We, who 
at the outbreak of war happened to be 
abroad, feel it to be our bounden duty to 
acquaint the civilized world, and above all 
the British nation, with the true sentiments 
and aspirations of our people. Our Jugoslav 
brothers in America, meeting last March at 
Chicago in a Congress of 563 delegates, have 
unanimously adopted our programme. 

" The Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes pray 
for the victory of the Triple Entente and 
confidently await from it the salvation of 
the Jugoslav nation. The conviction that the 
Triple Entente is fighting for the triumph of 
the principle of nationality inspired the moral 
energy and superhuman efforts of Serbia 



PREFACE 9 

and Montenegro, and prevented their kinsmen 
across the frontier from utterly losing heart. 

" For Serbia and Montenegro this war is 
one of self-defence and liberation, not of 
conquest ; they are fighting to emancipate 
our people from a foreign yoke and to unite 
them as a single free nation. The military 
and political overthrow of Austria-Hungary 
will for ever put an end to that system of 
' Divide et Impera " by which our people 
has for centuries been governed. The 
Jugoslavs form a single nation, alike by 
identity of language, by the unanswerable 
laws of geography and by national con- 
sciousness. Only if united will they possess 
the resources necessary for an independent 
existence. 

" The Jugoslavs (Serbs, Croats, and 
Slovenes) inhabit the following countries : 
the Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro ; 
the Triune Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia- 
Dalmatia (with Fiume and district) ; the 
provinces of Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Car- 
niola ; considerable portions of the provinces 
of Istria, Trieste, Gorizia-Gradisca, Carinthia, 
and Styria ; and, finally, the Jugoslav zone 
of Hungary proper. 



io HISTORY OF SERBIA 

" To perpetuate the disunion of these 
territories by leaving so many under Austro- 
Hungarian rule, or to transfer even portions 
of them to another alien rule, would be a 
flagrant violation of our ethnographical, geo- 
graphical, and economic unity, and to this 
our people would unquestionably oppose an 
energetic and justifiable resistance. 

" The Southern Slav people aspires to 
unite its territories in a single independent 
State. The internal arrangements of the 
new State will be determined by the nation 
itself, in accordance with its own wishes and 
needs. 

" The Southern Slav State (Jugoslavia) 
will be an element of order and of peace. 
While devoting its whole energies to the 
cause of progress it will also develop those 
well-known virtues of its seafaring popula- 
tion which the British nation will be the 
first to appreciate. Its ports will be open to 
trade in a manner hitherto unknown, and 
through them a commercial outlet will be 
assured to all the nations of their hinterland, 
especially to the Czechs and the Magyars. 

" Our people, which professes several 
religions, and whose tolerant spirit is well 



PREFACE ii 

known, will crown its national unity by 
guarantees of religious equality and complete 
freedom of worship. Sure of the goodwill of 
our Russian brothers we appeal also to the 
sympathies of their Western Allies in our 
struggle for liberty. And in thus appealing, 
as representatives of a democratic people, to 
the British nation and Parliament, we look 
for such support as shall enable the Jugoslav 
nation, after centuries of martyrdom, to 
achieve at length its unity and independ- 
ence. 
" London, May 12." * 

The sons of the Serb, in spite of their 
wanderings and trials, in spite of the many 
influences to which they have been subjected, 

1 This manifesto was signed by the following members 
of the Jugoslav Committee : 

President : Dr. Ante Trumbic, Advocate, President 
of the Croat National Party in the Diet of Dalmatia, 
late Mayor of Split (Spalato) and late member for Zadar 
(Zara), in the Austrian Parliament. 

Members : Dr. Ante Biankini (of Starigrad, Dalmatia), 
President of the Jugoslav Committee in Chicago, U.S.A. ; 
Dr. Ivo de Giulli, Advocate, Town Councillor of Dubrov- 
nik (Ragusa), Dalmatia ; Dr. Julije Gazzari, Advocate, 
late Town Councillor of Sibenik (Sebenico), Dalmatia ; 
Rev. Don Niko Grskovic, President of the Croatian 
League in Cleveland, U.S.A. ; Dr. Hinko Hinkovic, 
Advocate, Member of the Croatian Parliament and 



12 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

have maintained and upheld their ethno- 
graphic features, their national traditions 
and ideals, and above all their language. 
Throughout the centuries, in the Shumadia, 
in Macedonia, in the territories extending 
north of the Danube and from Montenegro 
to the very foot of the Alps, in defiance of 
the Osmanli Turks and Arpad's Magyars, the 
Serbs, to the wonder of all ethnologists, have 
clung together and never ceased to form one 
nationality. Gathered round their national 
hero Marko Kralyevitch, they have lived in 
the firm conviction that a day will dawn for 

Croatian Delegate to the Parliament of Budapest ; 
Dr. Josip Jedlovski, Advocate, Secretary of the Slovene 
Society ' Edinost ' and of the Croat School Union in 
Trieste ; Milan Marjanovic, of Kastav, Istria, Editor 
of Narodno Jedinstvo (National Unity), Zagreb (Agram), 
Croatia ; Ivan Mestrovic, Sculptor, of Otavice, Dal- 
matia ; Dr. Mice Micic, Advocate, Town Councillor of 
Dubrovnik (Ragusa), Dalmatia ; Dr. Franko Potocnjak, 
Advocate, late Member of the Croatian Parliament and 
Delegate to the Parliament of Budapest ; Dr. Niko 
Stojanovic, Advocate, Member of the Bosnian Diet ; 
Erano Supilo, Editor of Novi List, Fiume, late Member 
of the Croatian Parliament and Delegate to the Parlia- 
ment of Budapest ; Mihajlo Pupin, of Pancevo, South 
Hungary, Professor at Columbia University, New York ; 
Dusan Vasiljevic, Advocate, Mostar, Herzegovina, Vice- 
President of the Serb National Union of Bosnia ; Dr. 
Nikola Zupanic, Publicist, of Metlika, Carniola. 



PREFACE 13 

them when they will form a large State, fitted 
to resist the Germanic Drang nach Osten. 
After a long sleep — as long and as profound 
as that of Marko himself — they have now 
awakened, and have set themselves to their 
task of liberation and union. The national 
bards or guslari are even now improvising 
and singing new ballads that will charm our 
future generations and inspire them with 
1 winged ideas ' even as our bards them- 
selves have been inspired by the contem- 
poraries of Marko and of Kossovo. The 
whole Serbian nation — taking this word in 
its broadest sense — believed that their 
national hero Marko was asleep in the vaults 
of his castle at Prilip, and that he would 
awaken on the Day to restore the mediaeval 
Serbian Empire : and he awoke in very 
truth. At the battle of Prilip in 1912 the 
Serbians beheld him at the head of their 
battalions as a warrior sans peur et sans 
reproche. They now recognize him in their 
already famous national sculptor Ivan 
Meshtrovitch, a Dalmatian peasant, in no 
wise different from the peasant bards of 
Serbia proper and of Montenegro, who has 
come to delight the world by his plastic 



14 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

representation of the great Serbian epic. 
The British public will before long enjoy an 
opportunity to appreciate the work of Mesh- 
trovitch, which the Italians have compared 
favourably with that of Rodin, and to gain 
an insight into the Serbian soul, more vivid 
and inspired that the present writer's attempt 
of last year to bring before English readers 
the exuberance of Serbian national poetry. 

The writer is confident that the fair- 
minded British people will welcome an honest 
and candid exposition of the history and 
mentality of the Serbian people, a race that 
in the past has been little understood in the 
West, partly for lack of information, partly 
through the superabundance of information 
emanating from Vienna, Budapest and 
Berlin. He also sincerely hopes that the 
English-speaking peoples will realize that 
Serbia is pre-destined, geographically and 
ethnically, to link together and amalgamate 
into one entity the northern and eastern 
lands inhabited by the Serbs and other 
Jugoslavs, and thus to oppose to the common 
foe an insurmountable barrier. 

W. M. P. 
May 1 91 5 



THE NATIONAL HYMN 

Translated by Elizabeth Christitch 

God of Justice I Thou Who saved us 

When in deepest bondage cast, 
Hear Thy Serbian children's voices, 

Be our help as in the past. 
With Thy mighty hand sustain us, 

Still our rugged pathway trace ; 
God, our Hope I protect and cherish 

Serbian crown and Serbian race I 

Bind in closest links our kindred, 

Teach the love that will not fail, 
May the loalhdd fiend of discord 

Never in our ranks prevail. 
Let the golden fruits of union 

Our young tree of freedom grace ; 
God, our Master ! guide and prosper 

Serbian crown and Serbian race 1 

Lord / avert from us Thy vengeance, 

Thunder of Thy dreaded ire : 
Bless each Serbian town and hamlet, 

Mountain, meadow, hearth, and spire. 
When our host goes forth to battle, 

Death or victory to embrace, — 
God of armies I be our leader ! 

Strengthen then the Serbian race ! 

On our sepulchre of ages 

Breaks the resurrection morn, 
From the slough of direst slavery 

Serbia anew is born. 
Through five hundred years of durance 

We have knelt before Thy face, 
A II our kin, God ! deliver I 

Thus entreats the Serbian race. 

Reprinted by permission 
from the Times 



INTRODUCTION 

The Country 

The Kingdom of Serbia lies immediately to 
the south of Austria-Hungary, from which 
it is at present separated by the Danube and 
the Save. It is bounded on the east by 
Rumania "and Bulgaria, and to the south 
by Greece. But the greater part of its 
frontiers remain to be determined, for the 
Macedonian territory acquired in 1913 in- 
creased the kingdom's area to about 31,000 
square miles, without giving to its four and 
a half million inhabitants that outlet to the 
sea which they have for the last fifty years 
constantly striven to acquire, and which 
is denied to none of its neighbours. 

The greater part of the country forms a 
high plateau in which intermingle the four 
mountain systems of the Balkan Peninsula : 
the Dinaric Alps, the Carpathians, the Balkans 
and the Rhodopes. With their varied for- 
mation and structure, their precipitous 
heights, their deep gorges and rushing streams, 

17 B 



18 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

these uplands form one of the most beautiful 
countries in the world, and the Serbians may 
claim justification for their proverb : " One 
travels the world over, to return to Serbia." 
The mountainous nature of the country has 
had no little influence on the national spirit ; 
the love of freedom is a universal character- 
istic of hillmen, and throughout the centuries 
of bondage and oppression which the Serbs 
have endured in the past, they have with- 
drawn into their fastnesses at crucial moments, 
even as the sturdy Welsh folk and the stern 
Scottish Covenanters have done in Britain. 

The rivers, which all partake of the nature 
of mountain torrents, and none of which are 
navigable, for the most part flow to the 
north ; among the tributaries of the Save are 
the Drina, which separates Serbia from 
Bosnia, the Jadar, the Dobrava, and the 
Kolubara ; into the Danube flow the Morava, 
the chief river of Serbia, the Mlava, the Pek 
and the Timok, which with the Danube 
divides Serbia from Rumania. 

The Iron Gates 

The Danube leaves the confines of Hungary 
through a narrow gap in the Carpathians, 



INTRODUCTION 19 

below Orsova, known as the Iron Gates, in 
which the mighty stream becomes a roaring 
torrent, strewn with jagged rocks, until recent 
years an almost complete bar to navigation. 
Between 1890 and 1896 Austria, under powers 
given her by the Treaty of Berlin, blasted 
the bed of the river and constructed along 
the Serbian shore a series of waterways 
intended to render possible direct access to 
the sea by way of the Lower Danube. This 
has been so far achieved that ships of light 
draught can proceed down the rapids without 
much difficulty, and can return slowly with 
the help of powerful tugs ; but the toll dues, 
pilotage and towing charges are necessarily 
so high that the Danube is out of the question 
as a normal channel for Serbian imports and 
exports. 

The new territories are watered by the 
Vardar, which flows south to Salonika, and 
the Drin, which at present forms the boundary 
between Serbia and Albania, and flows into 
the Adriatic. 

The region of inaccessible mountain fast- 
nesses which extends to the south of Belgrade, 
between the Morava and the Kolubara, and 
which gradually rises to the lofty summits 



20 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

of the Rudnik, is called the Shumadia, or 
Forest Land ; this is the very heart of 
Serbia, a district to which many references 
will be made in the following pages. 

The climate, although subject to wide 
variations, is on the whole temperate and 
pleasant ; neither the heat nor the winds are 
so trying as in most other Mediterranean 
countries. There is everywhere a luxuriance 
of vegetation, and the hot mineral springs 
will no doubt in the future attract an in- 
creasing number of visitors. 

Chief Towns 

Serbia boasts few large towns besides 
Belgrade, but the following, the population 
of which is increasing rapidly, will no doubt 
in the near future become centres of im- 
portance. 

Belgrade (Beograd, 'the White City'), 
admirably situated on an amphitheatre of 
hills between the Danube and the Save, is 
the capital, and numbers 100,000 inhabitants. 
It is rapidly being transformed into an en- 
tirely modern town, with electric lighting 
and tramways, first-rate hotels, up-to-date 
shops, a well-equipped university with over 



INTRODUCTION 21 

1000 students, and a number of museums and 
galleries. 

Nish (25,000 inhabitants), which serves as 
a capital in times of stress and danger, is at 
the junction of the main lines from Belgrade 
to Constantinople and to Salonika. Situated 
amid magnificent surroundings, it is an im- 
portant market and garrison town, though 
as yet hardly modernized. Serbians, a few 
Turks, ' Tziganies ' or Gipsies, and Jews inter- 
mingle in peace and amity, though they have 
their respective quarters, some of which 
are more picturesque than sanitary. Well- 
equipped railway works put out both engines 
and carriages. 

Kraguyevats (19,000 inhabitants), half-way 
between Belgrade and Nish, is the arsenal 
town ; Chupriya, a few miles away, has 
recently become one of the most important 
brewing and sugar-refining centres in the 
East, and is rapidly growing into a modern 
town. 

Posharevats (16,000 inhabitants), to the 
east of Belgrade, Leskovats (15,000), Shabats 
and Valyevo, near the western frontier, 
Negotin, near the Rumanian frontier, and 
famed for its wine, Pirot, the centre of the 



22 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Serbian carpet industry, on the line to Sofia, 
and Vrania, on the old southern frontier, are 
names which will all appear in the course of 
the subsequent narrative. 

In the new territories the most important 
towns are Uskub and Monastir. The former 
(35,000 inhabitants), now officially designated 
by its Serbian name of Skoplye, situated 
on the Vardar, is a town of glorious history, 
which in the fourteenth century was the 
capital of Dushan's great Empire. The Ser- 
bians re-entered it in triumph on October 13, 
1912. Monastir, now called Bitoly, and the 
second largest town in Serbia (60,000 inhabi- 
tants), is the ancient Heraklea, celebrated for 
its great fairs, and as the centre of Turkish 
fanaticism in Europe. It will attract tourists 
as the starting-place of excursions to the 
lakes of Ochrida and Prespa, through the 
latter of which the new frontier passes. 
These lakes, which are both twenty miles 
long, equal in beauty the most famous spots 
in Italy and Switzerland. 

The Outlet to the Sea 

The economic prosperity of many of the 
towns mentioned above will depend on the 



INTRODUCTION 23 

development of the railway system. Serbia 
has as yet only 875 miles of railways open for 
traffic. The chief of these is the line Bel- 
grade-Nish-Pirot, which goes on to Sofia. It 
forms a part of the great Express-Orient 
trunk line that connects Paris with Constan- 
tinople via Munich and Vienna. From Nish 
another important branch runs down the 
valley of the Vardar, via Skoplye, to Salonika, 
which by a convention with Greece has be- 
come the chief outlet for Serbian products. 

This outlet is convenient for the export of 
cereals, which do not deteriorate rapidly, can 
stand a long sea voyage, and find advan- 
tageous freight in the ships which sail from 
west to east laden with manufactured pro- 
ducts for Eastern Europe and Asia Minor, 
and on the return journey carry not only 
Russian, but also Rumanian, Bulgarian, and 
Serbian grain as ballast. But Serbia's chief 
exports are cattle, pigs, poultry, and fresh 
or dried fruit destined for Italy, France, 
Spain, Belgium, and other Western countries, 
and with regard to these essentially perishable 
goods, a glance at the map will show the 
great advantage of direct access to the 
Adriatic. Cattle take twenty-seven days to 



24 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

cross from Salonika to Genoa, and reach their 
various destinations badly out of condition 
after the long sea journey, especially trying 
in the prevailing warm weather. By way of 
the Adriatic and the Italian railway system, 
the journey from Serbia to Naples would not 
exceed a week. The conclusion is obvious. 
The ' window on the Adriatic ' is for Serbia 
not a matter of mere gratification of national 
vanity, but the fundamental economic con- 
dition of her future prosperity. Be it noted 
that the barring of the road to the Adriatic 
was one of the boons conferred on Serbia by 
the ill-starred treaty of Berlin. Until Bosnia- 
Herzegovina passed into the hands of Austria, 
Serbia had the free use of the excellent road 
from Mokra Gora, on her frontier, to Ragusa, 
which could be reached in four or five days. 
Since 1878 this outlet has been closed 
absolutely. 

The Constitution 

The constitution in force in Serbia to-day 
is that of 1903, and is in its main features 
identical with that of 1888, though it goes 
rather further in its guarantees of individual 
freedom. Thus it absolutely prohibits the 



INTRODUCTION 25 

penalty of exile, and insists strongly on a 
number of ' liberties ' and ' inviolabilities ' 
which Britain has long enjoyed as a matter 
of course, but which are not yet taken for 
granted in Middle or Eastern Europe. It 
embodies representative and parliamentary 
government, based on a broad democratic 
foundation, the franchise being practically 
universal. In the Skupshtina, or National 
Assembly, the principle of proportional repre- 
sentation, with its due recognition of mino- 
rities, has received a wider application than 
in any other modern constitution ; the 
members are elected by a scrutin de liste 
embracing a whole department ; they vary 
in number from four to twelve in each 
department, according to the density of the 
population. It is characteristic of the con- 
ditions still existing in Serbia that in each 
departmental list there must be at least two 
candidates who fulfil the special condition of 
possessing a university degree or its equiva- 
lent. This ensures that the Assembly shall 
contain a certain percentage of members 
belonging to the intelligentsia or educated 
class, an essential precaution, since the 
peasants form nine-tenths of the population. 



26 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

There is but a single Chamber, which 
exercises the legislative power in conjunction 
with the King. The executive power is in the 
hands of a Cabinet appointed and dismissed 
by the King, but responsible to the Skupsh- 
tina, which, having sole control of the budget, 
possesses the powers requisite to compel the 
Cabinet's resignation. The Assembly meets 
in ordinary session on October ioth of each 
year, and cannot be prorogued until it has 
passed the budget for the year following. 

The judges are appointed for life, and are 
independent of the Government. So also are 
the members of the Council of State, which 
has important political and administrative 
duties, and which draws up the list of candi- 
dates from which the Skupshtina appoints 
the Cour des Comptes. To the latter the 
care of the budget is specially committed. 
The Council of State consists of sixteen 
members, elected half by the Skupshtina 
from a list presented by the King, and half 
by the King from a list presented by the 
Skupshtina. This is typical of many modes 
of procedure engendered by the mutual dis- 
trust and rivalry of King and Assembly 
which obtained under Serbia's past rulers. 



INTRODUCTION 27 

The Constitution also embodies a Referen- 
dum in the form of a ' Great Skupshtina,' 
consisting of double the number of members 
of the ordinary Assembly, which may be 
convoked to decide on grave national ques- 
tions, such as the election of a king or 
regent, the choice of an heir to the throne, 
modifications of the Constitution, or terri- 
torial exchanges. 

Until 1913 the country was divided into 
seventeen okrugs or departments, subdivided, 
after the manner of France, into srez (arron- 
dissements), communes and villages. The 
new territories have been divided into eleven 
departments, the total number now being 
twenty-eight. Each department is adminis- 
tered by a prefect, and each arrondissement 
by a sub-prefect. But these territorial divi- 
sions have also their local Assemblies, and 
every commune, urban or rural, is an auto- 
nomous entity, possessing the right to carry 
on its affairs as it pleases. For this purpose 
it elects a Municipal Council of from ten to 
twenty members, and the latter vests its 
executive power in a communal tribunal con- 
sisting of the president of the municipal council, 
two or more of his deputies, and a registrar. 



28 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Each village formerly consisted of a 
number of patriarchal communities called 
zadrugas. Within the zadruga all the mem- 
bers of one family lived in common, and 
each worked for the benefit of all. The 
young men, on marrying, continued to reside 
within the home, additions to which were 
built as required. The zadruga formed a 
corporate entity, which could take action 
before a court of law ; its possessions remained 
indivise, and a daughter, on marrying, re- 
ceived a dowry, but could claim no share 
of the common good. This was administered 
by an elected chief, usually the eldest member 
of the family, who bore the title of domatshin, 
' lord,' or stareshina, ' elder.' The house- 
hold affairs were managed by a matron, the 
domatshitsa, whose authority was absolute. 
During the second half of the nineteenth 
century the zadrugas began to break up 
under the individualistic tendencies of modern 
industrialism ; they are now fast disappear- 
ing, and will probably in the near future 
be things of the past. 

The Serbian Church is autonomous, but 
maintains a close union, in the matter of 
dogma, with the Greek or Eastern Orthodox 



INTRODUCTION 29 

Church. The internal control belongs to 
the Assembly of Bishops, under the presi- 
dency of the Archbishop of Belgrade, who is 
at the same time the Metropolitan of Serbia. 
The regular clergy belongs to the Order of 
St Basil, as is customary within the Orthodox 
Church. 

Education has within recent years made 
rapid strides. Besides the University of 
Belgrade, already referred to, Serbia had in 
1910 twenty secondary schools attended by 
nearly 8000 pupils, and 1300 elementary 
schools attended by 140,000 pupils. The 
political events of the last two years have 
afforded little opportunity as yet to make 
satisfactory educational provision for the 
newly acquired territory. 

Present and Future Wealth 

One of the first cares of the State, when 
the time for recuperation has come, must be 
the establishment of technical schools, in 
which the younger generation may learn not 
only to modernize its methods of breeding 
and cultivation, but also to utilize the untold 
resources which Serbia holds within her 
bosom. We have already stated that the 



30 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

chief products and exports are at the present 
day cereals, comprising maize (the staple 
food of the country), wheat, barley, oats and 
rye ; fruit, particularly plums, exported as 
prunes and preserves ; swine and cattle. To 
these many other products will be added as 
soon as Serbia has found permanent markets, 
accessible without the payment of exorbitant 
dues in transit, accessible within a reasonably 
short space of time, and accessible under 
such conditions that the best part of the 
profits shall go to the producers, and not to 
Austrian middlemen. Thus favoured, Serbia 
will largely increase her output of tobacco, 
flax, hemp, sugar-beet ; will engage on a 
large scale in the culture of silkworms, and 
will begin to exploit her six million acres of 
forest timber. 

But the country holds other riches, indeed 
no soil in Europe hides greater accumulations 
of treasure. Gold, silver, iron, copper, 1 zinc 
and lead have been exploited since the most 
remote antiquity, but the ground has hitherto 
been no more than scratched on the surface ; 

1 The copper mines of Maydan-Pek, to the south of 
Posharevats, are the richest in the world, and yield a 
metal of extraordinary purity. 



INTRODUCTION 31 

coal and lignite have been revealed at every 
point where borings have been made ; the 
numerous rivers abound in falls and cataracts 
which, once harnessed, will generate in un- 
limited quantities the great modern source of 
energy, electrical current. There is every 
probability that within the next generation 
Serbia will be one of the important industrial 
centres of Europe. 

The Army 

Small wonder that envious eyes have 
fastened upon this land of promise, and that 
unceasing efforts have been made to keep it 
in thraldom. No country has had to fight 
with more determination to achieve its free- 
dom ; no country, perhaps, will need to keep 
a keener edge on its sword in order to main- 
tain it. Much has already been done to 
increase the efficiency of the army since 1908, 
when the imminence of a day of reckoning 
became obvious. Under a system of obliga- 
tory service, it consists to-day of an active 
army organized in three bans, and a Poslednya 
odbrana, or last line of defence. 

Service in the army is for a term of twenty- 
four years. The recruit may commence his 



32 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
service at any time between the ages of 
eighteen and twenty-one ; he serves for 
eighteen months in the infantry, or for two 
years in the cavalry and artillery. He then 
belongs for eight and a half years to the 
reserve of the first ban. He is afterwards 
attached for six years to the second ban and 
for eight years to the third ban. The last 
line of defence consists of all able-bodied men 
between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, 
and forty-five and fifty. In the Balkan War 
of 1912 the army numbered about 350,000 
men ; in 1914 its strength was between four 
and five hundred thousand. Belgrade and 
Kraguyevats are the training centres for the 
officers of the infantry and artillery respec- 
tively, and the standard of military education 
is high. The infantry weapon is the magazine 
7 mm. Mauser rifle ; the artillery is composed 
mainly of Schneider 1908 quick-firing field- 
guns from the Creusot works, but comprises 
also a number of Krupp manufacture. Of 
the powers of endurance, steadiness, elan, 
and general fighting qualities of the Serbian 
soldier, the events of the last three years 
have given more than sufficient proof. May 
I add that throughout her history Serbia has 



INTRODUCTION 33 

looked westward for light and guiding, and 
that in the conduct of warfare also the 
Serbian soldiers and their leaders have striven 
to exercise those virtues of humanity and 
chivalry which distinguish the Western armies. 

Two Appreciations 

Of the characteristic qualities and failings 
of the Serbian people as a whole, it does not 
belong to one of themselves to speak with 
impartiality ; the following pages will, it is 
hoped, help the reader to understand them, 
and perhaps to sympathize with their trials 
in the past, with their hopes for the future. 
A couple of quotations from competent 
observers may, however, not be out of place. 
Mr. A. Muzet, the well-known engineer, and 
one of the foremost authorities on the Balkan 
States, wrote in 1912, immediately before 
the Balkan War 1 : " The Serbian is immo- 
derately proud ; his self-confidence is great, 
and he loves his country, his land, his field, 
with all the legitimate pride of a people that 
have shed their blood during long centuries 
to attain their independence. ' Rather death 

1 A. Muzet, Aux Pays Balkaniques, Paris, 1912. 
Second edition, 1914. 

C 



34 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
than slavery/ such is his noble device. Be- 
fore my arrival in Serbia, I had been told, 
' Do not trust the peasantry, they are deceit- 
ful and untruthful.' This accusation is false. 
In the mining undertakings which I have 
directed, I have always been satisfied with 
them ; I have found them, generally speak- 
ing, devoted, hard-working and honest. . . . 
If you know how to win their confidence, 
you will have no more trustworthy or more 
devoted auxiliaries. When they show dis- 
trust to a stranger, it is because the latter 
has attempted to impose upon them. I have 
observed this more than once." 

The words that follow were spoken by an 
American Red Cross doctor in Serbia to 
Mr. Basil Clarke, the war correspondent 1 : 
" My word, Clarke, but I tell you these men 
are great. I feel that small beside them 
that I could hide myself. Pain I Suffering ! 
You've not seen bravery till you've seen 
these men suffer. I'll take off a hand, an 
arm, a leg — without anaesthetics, mind you 
— and will the fellow budge ? Not an eyelid. 
If you hear him say ' Kuku lele ' (' Oh, dear ') 
that's as much as you'll hear, and not often 
1 Daily Mail, February 23rd, 1915. 



INTRODUCTION 35 

that much. And die ! They'll die without 
a sound — unless it is to thank you if they 
can before they go. Where this race of 
soldiers sprang from I don't pretend to 
know, but I tell you right now they're God's 
own men." 



PART I : HISTORY 



I : EARLY HISTORY 

The Coming of the Serb 

The region known as the Balkans was colo- 
nized by Rome before the Christian era and 
formed the provinces of Illyricum and Moesia, 
the Serbia of to-day being known as Moesia 
Superior and Dardania. In this fertile and 
beautiful country nourishing townships sprang 
up on the banks of the Danube and the 
Morava; but during the following centuries, 
lying as it does close to the great highway 
through Europe via the valleys of the Danube, 
the Main and the Rhine, it was overrun in 
succession by Huns, East Goths, and Lango- 
bards, and was brought in 550 under the sway 
of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, only 
to be torn from his successors by the Avars, 
who again laid it waste. 

It was at the beginning of the seventh 
century that the Serbs, who lived as a patri- 
archal people in the country now known as 
Galicia, descended to the shores of the Black 
Sea, thence moved westward along the 

39 



40 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
northern bank of the Danube, and crossing 
the river, settled mostly in those Balkan 
territories which they inhabit at the 
present time, namely, the kingdom of 
Serbia (which now includes Old Serbia), 
Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Monte- 
negro, Dalmatia, Batshka, the Banat, 
Croatia, Sirmia and Istria. Under what 
circumstances and under what leaders they 
effected their migration is unknown, but the 
ancient inhabitants of these regions, Latins, 
Illyrians, Thracians, Greeks and Albanians, 
seem to have been easily driven by the new- 
comers toward the Adriatic coast. The By- 
zantine Emperor Heraclius, after disposing 
of the Avars who had threatened him from 
the Danube, had directed his armies against 
the Persians, who had invaded Syria and 
possessed themselves of Jerusalem ; when, 
after the series of campaigns in which he 
rolled back the tide of Persian invasion, he 
once more turned his attention to the northern 
boundaries of his empire, the new-comers had 
taken firm root in the Balkan region, which 
they were thenceforth to cling to in spite of 
the unrelenting efforts of the Eastern em- 
perors to oust them. In this part of Europe 



EARLY HISTORY 41 

they were destined to occupy a preponderant 
position, due on the one hand to their warlike 
character, to their energy and to their fierce 
love of independence, and on the other to the 
commanding position of Serbia, which by 
its central situation and the strength of its 
mountain passes, has ever been the key to the 
whole of the Balkans. 1 

Early Civilization 

The pagan and uncultured Serbian tribes 

now came into constant intercourse with the 

highly polished Byzantines, and became 

gradually converted to Christianity, according 

to the well-known law that when two peoples 

come into close contact the more civilized of 

the two, whether vanquished or victorious, 

must necessarily impose its civilization and 

customs on the more barbarous. The Christian- 

ization of the settlers became general in the 

first half of the ninth century, when the two 

brothers Cyrillus and Methodius — the so-called 

Slavonic apostles— translated and preached 

1 It is worthy of remark that at the very time of the 
Serbian migration, Mohammed was laying, on the shores 
of the Red Sea, the foundations of the formidable power 
to escape from the toils of which Serbia was engaged 
for centuries in a tragic struggle. 



42 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

the Gospels in the ancient Slav language, then 

commonly understood by all the southern Slavs. 

This was the time when gradual estrange- 
ment culminated in the ' great schism ' 
between the Latin and Greek Churches, and 
the Church in Serbia was naturally constituted 
as a member of the Eastern or Greek branch, 
although it did not subject itself entirely to 
its rule. 

Of the political constitution of the Serbs 
at this time we know very little. The nation 
was composed of a certain number of tribes 
composed of clans more or less related to each 
other j each tribe formed a geographical and 
political unit (Dzupa) at the head of which 
was a Dzupan, whose title and power seem 
to have corresponded to that of a Count 
among Western peoples. This tribal organiza- 
tion is common to all the Slavonic groups and 
was preserved for many centuries after their 
Christianization. The Dzupans met in an 
assembly called Skupshtina, and elected one 
of their number as Grand Dzupan, but as the 
Dzupas were originally quite independent 
of each other this title, during the early 
centuries of Serbian history, carried with it a 
very limited authority ; in fact, for five cen- 



EARLY HISTORY 43 

turies after the settlement of Serbia, the 
history of the country is that of a struggle 
between the Grand Dzupans' attempts at 
centralization, and resistance of the Dzupas 
to these attempts. 

First Struggles for Independence 

This lack of cohesion made the Serbs an 
easy prey to the attacks of the Byzantines, 
the Bulgars, and the Franks, and under the 
first Grand Dzupans, whose name history 
has handed down to us, Voislav and Radoslav, 
they began slowly to realize that only by 
concentration of their power could they offer 
resistance as a nation, and a serious effort 
was made to found a State on the banks of 
the Morava, with Horea Margi (now called 
Chupriya) as its capital. This attempt, how- 
ever, proved abortive, owing to the hostility 
of the Bulgars, a warlike people who had 
settled on the banks of the lower Danube, 
and whose history will constantly intermingle 
with that of Serbia. 

A fresh attempt to form an independent 
State was made by the Dzupan Vlastimir 
(890) ; this province was called Rashka and 
extended around the rivers Piva, Tara and 



44 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Lim, touching the basin of the River Ibar 
in the east and that of the Vrbas in the west. 
To secure its freedom from molestation, the 
Serbs determined to acknowledge the su- 
premacy of Constantinople, on the express 
condition that they should never be subject 
to a government proceeding from that capital, 
whose rule was notoriously extortionate and 
rapacious. The Emperor agreed that the 
Serbs should be ruled by their own Dzupans 
and should preserve their patriarchal form 
of government. But in the very beginning 
of its civil life the new State of Rashka was 
torn by dissensions amongst the leaders, which 
facilitated the interference of the Bulgarian 
Tsar Simeon. Tchaslav, the Dzupan of an- 
other tribe, though he possessed no rights to 
it, claimed the throne, and was supported by 
Simeon, who successfully invaded Rashka. 
The Bulgarians retained possession of the 
country for seven years (924-931), until 
Tchaslav succeeded in wresting from them a 
new State comprising, together with Rashka, 
the territories of Zetta, Trebinye, Neretva and 
Houm. The death of Tchaslav, however, was 
followed by a long period of disorder, and in 
the course of the following century the 



EARLY HISTORY 45 

Byzantine Empire, having again brought 
the now enfeebled Bulgaria within its rule, 
proceeded, despite the stipulations which it 
had entered into, to bring the Serbs under its 
immediate control, and to subject them to the 
imperial financial system. Rashka was over- 
powered, the Grand Dzupan fled, and a Greek 
Governor took his place. A general revolt 
followed ; the Dzupan of Zetta, Stephan 
Voislav (1034-105 1), who was imprisoned at 
Constantinople, effected his escape and, re- 
turning to his native land, quickly gathered the 
Serbs round him, declared himself independent 
of the Grand Dzupan of Rashka, appropriated 
Herzegovina, seized vessels from Byzantium 
laden with rich treasure, entered into alliance 
with the Italian subjects of the Greek Empire, 
who were also struggling for freedom, and 
finally drove the Greek governor and his 
dependents out of the country. 

The First Kingdom of Serbia 

In 1043, Constantine X, in order to re- 
establish his dominion over the rebels, sent 
a strong army from the coast into the 
interior. The Serbs encountered them in 
their mountains, as the Tyrolese and Swiss 



46 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

peasants have so often met their enemies, 
and the entire Greek army was annihilated. 
The defeat was decisive for the time being ; 
the Imperial Court was compelled to renounce 
all hopes of imposing a direct government, 
and the princely power of the Grand Dzupans 
was firmly established in the person of 
Voislav. The latter's son Michaylo (1053- 
1081) succeeded in bringing Rashka also under 
his authority, and in the year 1077 assumed 
the title of King, which was confirmed to him 
by Pope Gregory VII. 

It should be noted that, settled as they are 
on the borders of the East and the West, the 
Serbians have always been in touch with 
Western Christendom and civilization, from 
which they have derived if not open aid at 
least a certain degree of support. The Grand 
Dzupans more than once allied themselves 
by marriage with the princely houses of 
Western Europe, and maintained relations 
with Venice and with the court of Rome. 

Under the rule of King Bodin, the son of 
Michaylo, the Serbia of Tchaslav was reconsti- 
tuted, and enlarged by the addition of Bosnia. 
But after Bodin's death new disorder ensued, 
caused mainly by the struggles between the 



EARLY HISTORY 47 

several pretenders to the throne. This inter- 
necine strife is an unfortunate feature of 
Serbian history ; constantly we see energy 
wasted in futile dissensions among various 
members of ruling families, who criminally 
and fatally neglected national interests, in 
pursuit by legitimate or illegitimate means of 
their personal ambitions. Thus at all times 
has the Serbian nation been hindered from 
becoming a powerful political unit, in spite of 
the isolated efforts of many eminent rulers. 
Wars with Byzance and internal strife now 
spread ruin through the land, and led once 
again to disintegration, until in 1169 Stephan 
Nemanya established himself as ruler and 
founded a dynasty which was to endure until 

1371- 



II : THE RISE TO GREATNESS 

Stcphan Ncmanya 

With Nemanya begins a new page in the 
history of Serbia. For the time being the 
struggle for existence is at an end, Serbia's 
power and influence increase continually until 
at the end of the Middle Ages the empire of 
her Tsars ranks as one of the foremost in 
Europe. 

The nation, as in all mediaeval states, was 
composed of two distinct classes, the one 
privileged and the other unprivileged. The 
former, consisting of the nobility and the 
clergy, held all the political power in their 
hands. The unprivileged peasants, artisans, 
miners and tradesmen paid a tax into the 
king's treasury, and were bound by certain 
obligations to the proprietors of the lands on 
which they toiled ; these were the king, the 
nobility, or the clergy. A comparison of the 
regime under which the unprivileged classes 
lived, with that of the contemporary countries 
of Europe, leads to the conclusion that the 

48 



RISE TO GREATNESS 49 

condition of the land labourers of Serbia was, 
in times of peace, preferable to that of the 
same class in any of the other European 
States. 

The Serbian kings, during the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries, were no rude clans- 
men; they were educated at the Imperial 
Court of Constantinople or at Venice, and 
gave great attention to the development of 
the country. German colonists were invited 
to come and exploit its natural resources and 
in particular the silver mines, which soon 
proved one of the chief sources of wealth. A 
brisk general trade was done with Ragusa 
and especially with Venice, whose monetary 
system Serbia had adopted. It follows that 
as early as the thirteenth century the chief 
political task of the Serbians was to secure a 
firm footing on the coast of the Adriatic. The 
usual title of the old Serbian monarchs was, 
" By the grace of God King of all Serbian 
lands and to the sea-coast." 

Stephan Nemanya began his reign by 
organizing the kingdom and the army with 
a view to future expansion. He then tried his 
strength against the hosts of Emperor Manuel 
Comnenus ; but twice beaten, he consented 

D 



50 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
to live on friendly terms with him, and to pay 
tribute. In return Manuel restored to Serbia 
the provinces of Rashka and of the upper 
Morava, together with the town of Pristina, to 
which Stephan immediately transferred the 
seat of government. On the death of Manuel 
in 1 1 80, the Byzantine Empire being already 
in a state of dissolution, Stephan annexed 
Dalmatia and Herzegovina and conquered 
half of Bosnia. In 1185 he refused to pay 
tribute, thus asserting his independence, 
routed the troops of the tottering empire, 
annexed part of Macedonia, and placed Ban 
Kulin, an ally, upon the throne of Bosnia. 
Thus by bravery and wisdom he succeeded 
not only in uniting under his rule the provinces 
held by his predecessors, but also in adding 
those which never had been Serbian before. 
He also strengthened the Orthodox religion 
in his State by building numerous churches 
and monasteries. Feeling the weakness of 
advancing age, and wishing to give fresh 
proof to his people of his religious faith, the 
aged Nemanya abdicated in 1196 in favour 
of his able second son Stephan, and withdrew 
to the convent of Hilendar on Mount Athos, 
the prior of which was his third son Rastko, 



RISE TO GREATNESS 51 

who has remained famous in the Serbian 
Church under the name of Saint Sava, and 
continues to watch over his people. At the 
battle of Koumanovo, in 1912, did he not 
appear, robed in white, and seated in a 
white chariot drawn by white horses, to lead 
the Serbian peasants on to victory ! 

During the reign of Stephan II the so-called 
fourth Crusade was diverted by the shrewd 
policy of Venice against the failing Byzantine 
empire j Constantinople was taken by the 
western armies in 1204, and became the seat of 
a Latin empire which endured for sixty years. 
Sava seized the opportunity to wrest from 
the Greek patriarch the autonomy of the 
Serbian Church (1219), became himself the 
first Serbian archbishop, established eight 
bishoprics, and encouraged schools and learn- 
ing. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest 
statesmen in Serbian history. 

The First Conflict with Hungary 

The reign of Stephan II was one of peace 
and prosperity, although disturbed by an 
ominous incident. Serbia and Hungary had 
hitherto lived in amity, with boundaries well 
defined by the rivers Danube and Save. But 



52 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

no sooner had Serbia annexed, or assumed 
control over Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Dal- 
matia, than a rivalry of interests and am- 
bitions immediately arose between the two 
paramount States. While Stephan's atten- 
tion was given up to the fate of Constantinople 
and to friendly negotiations with Baldwin of 
Flanders, the King of Hungary intrigued 
with Stephan's brother Vukan, who was 
governor of Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro, 
encouraged him to rise against his brother, 
and sent a Hungarian army into Bosnia 
to support him. Sava intervened and induced 
Vukan to return to his allegiance, thus 
compelling the Hungarians to withdraw 
within their frontiers. With the death of 
Vukan, which occurred shortly afterwards, 
security was restored, but it is worthy of 
note that thus early arose, with regard to 
the Adriatic coast-line, one of the crucial 
problems which remain to be solved in the 
Balkans. 

Stephan II was succeeded by his son Rado- 
slav (i 223-1 233), who was dethroned by his 
brother Vladislav (1 233-1 242), who was re- 
moved from the throne by his third brother 
Urosh the Great (1242-1276). Urosh married 



RISE TO GREATNESS 53 

Helena, a French princess of the house of 
Courtenay, and a niece of Baldwin, the first 
Latin emperor of Constantinople ; this lady 
contributed greatly to the spread of Western 
culture and knowledge among her adopted 
people. She founded schools, churches, public 
libraries, built new fortresses even, and earned 
a debt of gratitude which the historian Danilo 
has duly acknowledged. Urosh increased his 
territory and established the reputation of 
Serbia abroad, but in his turn he was de- 
throned by his son Dragutin (1276-1281). 
The latter, owing to the failure of a campaign 
against the Greeks, who had by now regained 
possession of Constantinople, retired from the 
throne in favour of a younger brother Milutin 
(1281-1321). Soon afterwards Dragutin re- 
ceived from his mother-in-law, the Queen of 
Hungary, the lands between the rivers Danube, 
Save, and Drina, and assumed the title of 
King of Sirmia. Dragutin yielded, while still 
alive, his throne and part of his lands to 
Milutin, another part remaining under the 
suzerainty of Hungary. Milutin, who in- 
flicted severe defeats on the emperor Michael 
Palaeologus, and extended his territories as 
far as Skoplye (later the Turkish Uskub) and 



54 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

the iEgean, was certainly one of the most 
remarkable descendants of Nemanya. His 
son Stephan Detshanski (1321-1331) defeated 
the Bulgarians in the famous battle of Vel- 
bouzd, and brought the whole of Bulgaria 
under his sway. 

Dushan the Great 

In 1331 the Voyvodes, or nobles, dethroned 
Stephan in favour of his son Dushan the 
Powerful, the most notable of all Serbian 
sovereigns. 

Dushan conquered Albania, Epirus, Thes- 
saly, the whole of Macedonia with the 
exception of Salonika, and in fact brought 
under his sway the bulk of the Byzantine 
Empire. Having established his rule over 
the whole of the Balkans, he proclaimed 
himself, in agreement with the Vlas- 
tela, or assembly of nobles, Tsar of the 
Greeks and Serbians (1346), elevated the 
Serbian archbishopric to the dignity of a 
patriarchate, and was solemnly crowned at 
Skoplye on Easter Day. An outstanding 
event of his reign was the promulgation in 
1354 of the Zakonic, or code of customs, 
ordinances, and laws of the Serbian Empire 



RISE TO GREATNESS 55 

in which Dushan sought to secure the life, 
freedom, and property of all his subjects, and to 
favour the development of learning and trade ; 
this document constitutes one of the principal 
sources of information on the state of civiliza- 
tion in the Balkans at the close of the Middle 
Ages, and proves that Serbia was little, if any- 
thing, behind the foremost States of Europe. 
Ranke, Mickiyevitch, and others, have stated 
that in Dushan's Zakonic is reflected more 
of the Slavonic genius than in any other 
code of the Slavs. 

The Coming of the Turk 

We have reached the culminating point in 
the history of Serbia ; her rise in power 
and prosperity, in spite of constant strife 
on the part of her rulers and would-be rulers, 
dates from the breaking of the power of the 
Byzantine emperors at the dawn of the 
thirteenth century ; by the middle of the 
fourteenth a new foe had appeared in the 
south-east, a power more hostile, more 
dangerous than Byzance, a blighting influence 
which was to plunge the whole of the Balkans 
into political impotence and renewed bar- 
barity for nearly four centuries, 



56 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

The Seljuk or Ottoman Turks, driven 
by the Mongols from Central Asia into 
Armenia, had gradually moved westward 
through Asia Minor, established their capital 
at Brusa, and taken Nicaea. Brave, dis- 
ciplined, and well organized as a cavalry 
force, and possessing in their janissaries a 
permanent body of infantry equal to any in 
the world, they constituted for Byzance 
and for the Balkans a danger against which 
in the helpless state of the Empire, the only 
protection was the intervening sea. The 
emperors seemed not to realize their im- 
pending fate ; already the Sultan Orkhan 
had obtained in marriage a daughter of 
Cantacuzene, and the latter was engaged 
with Palaeologus in unseemly strife for the 
throne, when in 1355 Orkhan's son Solyman 
crossed the Dardanelles and established him- 
self in Gallipoli, thus obtaining for the first 
time a strong foothold in Europe. 

Dushan at this moment had already made 
up his mind that the only way to secure the 
Balkans from invasion was to install himself 
in Constantinople, and by uniting the 
Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek nations into 
one state, to regenerate and re-establish the 



RISE TO GREATNESS 57 
falling Empire. With a great army of 
80,000 Serbs he marched southward, and 
easily possessed himself of Thrace and 
Adrianople. Already the van of his army 
was almost within sight of Constantinople, 
when on December 18th, 1355, he was taken 
suddenly ill in the village of Diavoli, and 
died the same night, at the age of forty-eight. 
Poison was so common a weapon in the hands 
of the last Byzantine emperors, that John 
Palaeologus may well have been responsible 
for Dushan's mysterious end. So, at any 
rate, passed away the only man who might 
have stayed the Ottoman onslaught, and 
with his disappearance all hopes of organized 
resistance were at an end. Although Serbia 
was not to succumb entirely to the Turk 
until a hundred years later, the process of 
disintegration began almost on the morrow 
of Dushan's death. 



Ill : THE YEARS OF BONDAGE 

Dushan's son Urosh was only nineteen when 
he fell heir to an Empire divided, according 
to feudal custom, into fourteen large fiefs, 
which Dushan had not had time to con- 
solidate, and which were foredoomed to fall 
a prey to the incessant and insatiable greed 
of the powerful nobles. Between 1359 and 
1362 Thessaly, the Banat, and Herzegovina 
were torn from the Empire. The defeat of 
John Palaeologus with a Graeco-Serbian army 
under the walls of Adrianople, in 1362, 
induced Bulgaria and Albania to resume their 
independence ; in 1367 the Voyvode Vukashin, 
governor of Dalmatia, who had been Regent 
during the minority of Urosh, marched upon 
Pristina and possessed himself of the throne, 
while Urosh fled into Bosnia, where he died 
in 1371. 

Meanwhile the Ottoman inroads were at 
last causing general alarm in the Balkans ; 
in 1371 Vukashin led a fresh host to stem 
the invasion, but on the banks of the Maritza 

58 



YEARS OF BONDAGE 59 

he lost both the battle and his life, and all 
Serbian lands south of Skoplye were occupied 
by the Turks. This episode marks the first 
great conflict between the Turks and the 
Serbians. 

Prince Marko 

Marko, the eldest son of Vukashin, now 
proclaimed himself King of the Serbians, 
but the Vlastela and the clergy refused to 
recognize his claims, and elected to the throne 
Knez (Prince) Lazar, a relative by marriage 
of Dushan the Powerful, and therefore of 
the great house of the Nemanyitch. More 
than passing mention must be made of 
Prince Marko Kralyevitch : on the usurpa- 
tion of the throne by Vukashin he had 
championed the cause of Urosh, been banished 
from Serbia, and gathered about him a band 
of free lances ; with this body of followers 
he spent his life in the pursuit of extraordinary 
adventures until his death in 1394 at the age 
— so tradition has it — of a hundred and three 
years. His valorous deeds, magnified and 
transformed by oral transmission among the 
people, have earned him the name of the 
Cid of Serbia, and he lives in tradition as the 



60 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

national hero of the Serbs. According to 
many, indeed, he is not dead, but sleeps in 
a vault under the black mountains that 
overhang Prilip, his native place. His 
sword is planted in the rocky walls of the 
vault, and his horse Sharatz nibbles patiently 
at the overgrowing moss. Thus, little by 
little, the stone is worn away and the sword- 
blade laid bare. A day shall come when 
the sword will fall to the ground ; then 
Marko will awake, and sword in hand, will 
reappear, mounted on Sharatz, to gather 
the Serbs round his banner and lead them 
against the Turks, to exterminate them for 
ever. Nay ! the prophecy has been fulfilled, 
for the Serbian infantry plainly beheld him, 
on November 5th, 1912, as they stormed the 
forbidding heights under which he had 
slumbered. 

Kossovo 

Tsar Lazar spent his reign in fighting 
brilliantly first against the Hungarians, who 
attacked him wantonly and were heavily 
defeated in 1374, and then against the Turks, 
whose system of occupying conquered 
countries with military colonies and carry- 



YEARS OF BONDAGE 61 

ing off the original inhabitants, was now 
arousing fierce opposition. At the famous 
battle of Plotchnik a body of Ottoman troops 
was annihilated among the mountains of 
Montenegro. Exasperated at the renewed 
activity of the Serbians, Sultan Amurath 
in 1389 marched against them with a huge 
army, to meet which Lazar obtained the 
support of large bodies of Albanians and 
Hungarians. The two hosts met on June 15th, 
on one of the largest plains in the western 
half of the peninsula, the field of Kossovo, 
or ' field of blackbirds,' near Pristina, and 
until noon the fortune of arms was with the 
Serbs. The particulars of the battle are 
obscured by national bias and the vagueness 
of tradition, but there appears no reason to 
doubt that the ultimate defeat of the Serbians 
was primarily due to treachery in their own 
camp. 

Vuk (Wolf) Brankovitch, one of the great 
nobles, to whom was entrusted one wing of 
the Serbian army, had long been jealous of 
his sovereign and of his brother-in-law Milosh 
Obilitch. Some historians state that he had 
arranged with Sultan Amurath to betray 
his master, in return for the promise of the 



62 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

imperial crown of Serbia, subject to the 
Sultan's overlordship. At a critical moment 
in the battle, the traitor turned his horse 
and fled from the field, followed by 12,000 
of his cuirassiers, who believed this to be a 
stratagem intended to deceive the Turks. 
When later in the day the Turks were rein- 
forced by fresh troops under the command 
of the Sultan's son Bajazet, the Turkish 
victory was complete. Lazar was taken 
prisoner and beheaded ; the Sultan himself 
perished on the field by the hand of the Serbian 
voyvode Milosh Obilitch. 1 

The Passing of Serbia 

From that day Serbia ceased virtually 
to be an independent kingdom. For another 
fifty years she nominally retained her rulers, 
while her centre of gravity shifted northward, 
the capital being moved first to Krushevats, 
and later to Smederevo (Semendria), but 
the true instinct of the people led them 
to mourn over the ' fatal field of Kossovo,' 

1 The rulers of the Nemanyitch dynasty have left 
their mark on Serbia in the form of magnificent churches 
and shrines, some of which (e.g. at Detchani, Gretcha- 
nica, Milendar) are of great architectural beauty. 



YEARS OF BONDAGE 63 

as that on which their independence received 
its death blow. During part of the fifteenth 
century Serbia struggled to retain some 
shadow of freedom, while her rulers, and in 
particular Dyoorady Brankovitch (1427-1456), 
appealed for help to Austria, Hungary, and 
Venice. The Ottoman power, although held 
in check for some time by John Hunyadi, 
continued slowly but surely to penetrate 
and crush the whole of the Balkans. Con- 
stantinople, besieged for the third time, 
fell in 1453 after a heroic defence ; six years 
later, in 1459, Mahomet II formally annexed 
Serbia, which until the nineteenth century 
was reduced to a mere Turkish pashalik. 
Two hundred thousand of the inhabitants 
are said to have been led away into slavery, 
and a number of the most influential families 
were rooted out. Politically, Serbia ceased 
to exist for three hundred years. 

As for the people, they split into three 
distinct groups. Those who dwelt in the 
plains and lowlands of the valley of the 
Danube remained in their homes, and bent 
under the Turkish yoke ; considerable 
numbers, and especially the inhabitants of 
' Old Serbia,' settled, in the course of the 



64 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in 
Hungary, where large bodies of Serbians had 
already taken root — as late as 1694, 36,000 
families crossed the Danube and colonized the 
Banat, and the so-called Military Frontier, 
i.e. Sirmia, Slavonia, and Southern Croatia. 
Lastly, a third group, unwilling to yield to 
any authority, withdrew into the least ac- 
cessible recesses of the mountains, and became 
practically outlaws ; entrenched in their 
mountain passes, expert in guerilla warfare, 
soon inured to persecution and hardship, 
these indomitable fighters are known to 
history as the Haiduks and Uskoks, who pre- 
served and upheld the traditions of heroism 
of their ancestors and the spirit of their race. 
So tenaciously did they maintain their 
nationality, religion, and speech that at the 
dawn of the nineteenth century they still 
formed a nucleus round which Serbia was 
once more to grow into a political body. 

The subjugation of Serbia was speedily 
followed by that of Bosnia (1463) and of 
Herzegovina (1482). An Albanian chief of 
Serbian origin, George Kastriotovitch Skander- 
Beg (1443-1468), defended for a time with 
great heroism the liberty of Albania. Even- 



YEARS OF BONDAGE 65 

tually, however, the Turks possessed them- 
selves of the whole peninsula with the ex- 
ception of Montenegro, which they never 
could subdue, owing partly to the heroism 
of its population, and partly to the moun- 
tainous nature of the country. Many noble 
Serbian families found a safe refuge in that 
land of the free j many more went to Ragusa 
as well as to the Christian princes of Valachia 
and Moldavia. 

The multitude of young men who left 
Serbia to seek homes in Hungary and Dal- 
matia fought as volunteers in the service 
of Venice, and especially of Austria, in all 
the wars against the Turks ; they were the 
so-called Uskoks whose history has been 
recorded by the Venetian Paolo Sarpi, and 
whose loyal services during these three 
hundred years Austria requited so ill that 
she was never able to gain their trust and 
sympathy. 

The Serbian population which had accepted 
the Ottoman rule lived thenceforth in a most 
unhappy condition. They soon ceased to be 
proprietors of their own land, which was 
divided among Turkish Spahis. To these 
land-lords those of the people who did not 

E 



66 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

embrace Islam had to render many personal 
services, and to give a tithe, or a seventh part, 
or even a third part of all their produce. 
They paid a tax to the Sultan, a tax to the 
governing Pasha, and ' baksheesh ' to the 
tax-collector, whom they were also obliged 
to entertain. During the Turkish invasions 
of Hungary the passage of countless armies 
again and again reduced a naturally fertile 
country to an utter waste. There was no 
security for life, honour, or property, and there 
was the crowning horror of the gift of the 
children, every seventh or every fifth year, 
to be trained as Janissaries. 1 

Thus passed the eighteenth century, with 
promise of better things ever alternating with 
bitter disappointment. By the Peace of 
Posharevats in 1718, Serbia, with the Banat 
and the greater part of Bosnia, had come 
under Austrian rule, but the overbearing 
attitude of the Magyar officers and officials 

1 The body of Janissaries was created in 1328 out of 
the prisoners of war of the Turks, and thereafter recruited 
by seizing Christian boys, who were trained as adherents 
of Islam, and organized as a privileged body of infantry. 
In 1796 their number had risen to 150,000, and their 
power had become an actual danger to the sultans. 
Their order was suppressed in 1826. 



YEARS OF BONDAGE 67 

effectively quenched any sympathy that the 
Serbs might have acquired for their northern 
neighbours, and in the war of 1738-9 the 
Serbians actually fought for the restoration 
of Turkish rule. Their only reward was a 
period of still more acute suffering from the 
cruelty of insubordinate janissaries, and in 
the war of 1788-91 the Serbians once more 
fought on the side of Austria. Joseph II 
had joined forces with Catherine of Russia 
to drive the Turks definitely out of the 
Balkans ; acclaimed by the Serbs, who 
volunteered in thousands for this war, an 
army of 200,000 men marched up the 
Danube, and gained possession of Belgrade, 
Shabats, and the whole of Bosnia. Reinforced 
and guided by Haiduks, they penetrated 
into Serbia, carried the town of Krushevats, 
and drove the Turks into Macedonia. At 
this moment Joseph died ; his successor, 
Leopold II, perturbed by the events of the 
French Revolution, concluded with the Turks 
the peace of Sistova, and surrendered every- 
thing that had been won, including Belgrade, 
leaving the disheartened Serbians to fend for 
themselves. 



IV : THE YEAR 1804 

The Janissaries 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, 
the people seemed almost resigned to their 
fate ; they had lost touch with Western 
Europe, knew comparatively little of Russia, 
and were experiencing some alleviation of 
their misery from the kind and just rule of 
the Governor of Belgrade, Hadgi Mustapha 
Pasha, who kept the Spahis in order, punished 
any acts of violence toward the poor or help- 
less, and lives in Serbian tradition with the 
expressive title of 'Mother of the Serbs.' 
To this happy regime there was a sudden 
and unexpected end. 

It had been arranged in the last treaty of 
peace between Austria and Turkey, that the 
Janissaries should not occupy the Serbian 
fortresses on the Austrian frontier j and 
Bekir Pasha had actually fulfilled this stipu- 
lation, compelling the Janissaries to retire 
into Bosnia and Bulgaria. These troops, 
however, accustomed to live dissolutely at 

08 



THE YEAR 1804 69 

the expense of the population, insubordinate, 
and, through their huge numbers, already 
recognized as a national danger, presently 
rose against the Sultan, who, to pacify them, 
permitted their return to the Pashalik of 
Belgrade, in contempt of his treaty obliga- 
tions, but in accordance with the time- 
honoured Ottoman maxim that promises 
made to Giaours are not binding upon the 
True Believers. 

The Janissaries hurried back into Serbia, 
promptly murdered Mustapha Pasha, or- 
ganized a centralized military government of 
terror, and initiated a rule of such un- 
exampled tyranny and plunder, that large 
numbers of the people fled to the mountains to 
join the Haiduks, while the ' Spahis,' or 
Turkish land-lords, joined the remainder of 
the population in their complaints to the 
Sultan. A threatening firman from the Porte 
precipitated a climax. Early in 1804 the 
Janissaries commissioned murderers through- 
out Serbia to kill all the nobles, mayors, 
chiefs of cantons, priests and monks— in 
short, every man who possessed any influence 
over the people. But news of the massacre 
travelled fast, and every man of any standing 



70 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
in Lower Serbia hastened to take refuge 
amid the mountains and forests of the 
Shumadia. 

Within these impregnable fastnesses there 
was safety, but for any who fled to them there 
could be no peaceful return to the fertile 
valleys below. It lay with those who had 
now fled from their homes to decide their 
own fate and also the fate of Serbia ; they 
must either become ' outlaws/ and submit 
to the extinction of their nation, or begin 
anew against their oppressors the struggle 
which in the past had so often ended in 
disaster. The outlook was black enough : 
war funds, artillery and equipment, supporters 
among the neighbouring States, leaders, all 
these essentials were equally lacking ; they 
were an unorganized crowd, with their stout 
hearts as their only asset ; yet they saw no 
course open to them but to fight, and to die, 
if die they must, bravely and as free men. 

Karageorge 

There lived at this time in the village of 
Topola, on the borders of the Shumadia, a 
man named George Petrovitch. He had 
some experience of warfare, having served 



THE YEAR 1804 71 

under Austria as a volunteer in 1788, and 
was known as one of the most enterprising 
men in the country ; he was also one of the 
wealthiest, being a large breeder of swine, 
which have ever been one of Serbia's chief 
sources of revenue. He had narrowly escaped 
death at the hands of the Janissaries by 
instant flight into the forests. Tall, stalwart, 
and determined, highly intelligent though 
illiterate, he was also violent, morose, and 
taciturn, and known to the Turks on this 
account as Kara George (Black George) ; 
it is under this name that he has passed 
down to posterity. No sooner had he 
reached a place of safety than many bands 
of fugitives gathered round him, while others 
grouped themselves in the Morava and 
Kolubara districts about the chiefs Nenado- 
vitch, Katitch, and Vasso Tcharapitch. 
They were presently reinforced by resolute 
bands of Haiduks, and to make a beginning, 
attacked the village of Sibnitza, near Bel- 
grade. Having killed and plundered the 
Turks, they carried off with them all the 
Serbians capable of bearing arms, and 
dispatched couriers in all directions ; every 
man who could carry a gun was ordered to 



72 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
join an armed band ; the women and 
children were to take refuge in the mountain 
strongholds. The movement quickly spread 
to the further banks of the Kolubara and 
Morava rivers ; before the Turks could 
realize what was happening, they had been 
cleared out of the villages and smaller towns, 
and driven into the fortresses. 

Thus commenced the insurrection of the 
Serbians ; in a few days the whole country 
was in the hands of the very men whom the 
Turks had doomed to extinction. The in- 
surgents now set about choosing a leader 
for the struggle that was yet to come. The 
Kneses or nobles among them were unwilling 
to assume the responsibility of the chief 
command, and they proposed Karageorge. 
The latter excused himself at first, on the 
grounds that " he did not understand how 
to govern, that his impetuosity rendered him 
unfit for office, that he could not wait to 
consult, but would be inclined to kill at 
once." His objections were waived aside, 
and Karageorge became Commander of the 
Serbians, although with an authority as yet 
undefined. 



THE YEAR 1804 73 

The First Campaign 

Meanwhile the Janissaries, under their 
leaders or Dahis, had made themselves secure 
in Belgrade and the other fortresses, and a 
body of Bosnian Janissaries advanced from 
Shabats to their assistance. Reinforced by 
Belgrade troops, they passed through Losnitsa, 
and met the Serbians on a line of half com- 
pleted entrenchments which the Serbians 
allowed the Janissaries to occupy. Here 
they were promptly surrounded and subjected 
to a destructive fire, and realized that they 
had walked into a trap. The Bosnians 
hastened to explain that they had not come to 
fight, but merely " to ascertain the state of 
affairs." Permission was granted them to 
effect a withdrawal, but as the Belgrade 
contingent endeavoured to retreat under the 
cover of their allies, both parties were almost 
annihilated. 

Encouraged by this success, the Serbians 
marched against the fortresses. The army 
of the Shumadia besieged Belgrade j in the 
east an attack was made on Posharevats, 
while to the west Jacob Nenadovitch en- 
camped before Shabats. Here Serbian his- 



74 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

tory has its ' Thermopylae.' Two hundred 
Haiduks had occupied the monastery of 
Tshoketshina to guard the road from Bosnia. 
They were attacked by a fresh body of 
Bosnian Turks one thousand strong, who 
were hastening to the relief of the town. 
Entrenched upon a height near the convent, 
they barred the road for a whole day. In the 
evening, when the Haiduks' ammunition was 
spent, the Turks, strongly reinforced, attacked 
them anew, and killed every one of them, 
but at such a heavy cost that their shattered 
troops had to retire. Thus Nenadovitch 
was enabled to take Shabats, where enormous 
stores of war material fell into his hands ; he 
then hastened to the assistance of the 
besiegers of Posharevats. 

In the meantime his brother, Matteia 
Nenadovitch, the chief priest of Valyevo, 
had been sent to Austria to buy arms and 
powder from the Hungarian Serbs, and to 
petition Archduke Charles of Austria for 
help against the common enemy. Laying 
stress on the fact that the Turks had sought 
especially to kill all Serbians who had lately 
served in the Austrian armies, he begged for 
war material and officers, and naively asked 



THE YEAR 1804 75 

that " as many Austrian soldiers be sent to 
aid his country as Serbians had aided Austria 
in the war against the Turks." The Archduke 
answered that unfortunately Austria was 
now at peace with Turkey, and could give 
the Serbians no support. The Serbian arch- 
bishop of Hungary did better : he sent 
Nenadovitch an iron cannon, which the 
priest brought back in triumph together with 
a German gunner, obtained at a price. Thus 
was constituted Serbia's first artillery force ; 
it did great execution at Shabats, and brought 
about the early surrender of the town ; 
no sooner did the gun appear before 
Posharevats than there also the garrison 
capitulated. 

The Serbian troops now concentrated before 
Belgrade, where to their surprise and em- 
barrassment they were joined by a body of 
Turkish regulars from Bosnia under the 
command of Bekir Pasha. 

It must be borne in mind that the Janissaries 
had proved for some time past a source of 
serious embarrassment to the Porte in various 
parts of the Ottoman States ; the Sultan had 
not dared hitherto to call on his Christian sub- 
jects to assist in reducing them to obedience 



76 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

— the Moslem may not invoke the aid of 
the Giaour against the Moslem — but the 
Serbians, having taken matters in their own 
hands, were in reality fighting for the Sultan. 
Only it was not good that a victory over any 
section of the Faithful should lie to the credit 
of the Giaours, so at this stage the manage- 
ment of the whole affair was entrusted by 
the Porte to Bekir Pasha, who now arrived 
with three thousand men, and halted on the 
left bank of the Kolubara, Karageorge being 
on the opposite side with a force twice as 
large. A cautious exchange of compliments 
took place ; Karageorge declared the willing- 
ness of the Serbians to remain loyal subjects 
of the Sultan, but at the same time their 
determination not to be governed any longer 
by the Janissaries j Bekir Pasha made a 
fair answer, but was amazed and highly 
displeased at what he saw. Instead of the 
peasant rabble that he had pictured in his 
mind, here was a fully organized army, 
with leaders, standards, and plenty of 
war material, which had been taken as 
booty from the Turks or brought across the 
Danube. 
The Janissaries' Dahis, in the meantime, 



THE YEAR 1804 77 

realizing the danger of their own position, 
fled secretly from Belgrade and took refuge 
further down the Danube in the island 
fortress of New Orsova ; but the Serbians 
demanded from Bekir Pasha that their 
enemies should be delivered up, and obtained 
an order to that effect. The commandant 
of Orsova had to admit a party of Serbians 
into the citadel, whence they soon returned 
with the heads of the four Dahis. Hereupon 
Bekir declared that everything had now 
been accomplished that the Serbians could 
desire, and directed them to return to their 
villages and flocks. 

Bekir, however, entirely misjudged the 
situation ; order and safety were not yet 
restored ; Belgrade and the southern fortresses 
of the Pashalik were still rilled with riotous 
bands of Janissaries and irregular troops. 
Then again, though the Serbians had taken 
up arms only through urgent necessity and 
actual peril to their lives, and against the 
open enemies of the Sultan, it was not to 
be expected that having defeated their foes, 
they would meekly return to their former 
condition. They now regarded as their real 
chiefs, not the Pasha and the Turkish land- 



78 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
lords, but the men who had led them to 
battle ; events had moved rapidly, and a 
new order of things was already within 

sight. 

The Shaping of a Policy 

The Serbians therefore continued to besiege 
Belgrade, and formulated a number of de- 
mands : that Karageorge should govern the 
land ; that Serbian courts of justice be 
established ; that the Turkish tax-gatherers 
be dismissed ; that Belgrade should be 
garrisoned with Turks and Serbians in equal 
numbers ; and that Karageorge should have 
a standing guard of five hundred men ; 
Serbia to pay an annual tribute of half a 
million piastres. The Porte replied forth- 
with, granting these demands on condition 
that the Serbians at once laid down their 
arms and dispersed. This they refused to do 
until Belgrade should open its gates, and 
Bekir Pasha returned to winter in Bosnia 
without any settlement having been effected. 

The intervention and support of a Christian 
Power, at this stage, was likely to prove 
of the utmost advantage, but the momentous 
question which the chiefs had to decide was 



THE YEAR 1804 79 

whether to apply to Austria or to Russia. 
Austria ruled over many of their kinsmen ; 
it was to Austria, under whose banner many 
of them had volunteered during the last 
war, that the Serbians were indebted for their 
skill in warfare. But Austria had a bad 
record in the Balkans ; as fickle in word 
and deed as the Porte itself, she had never 
retained the possessions which she acquired, 
but always handed back both land and 
people to the Turks. Moreover, she was at 
present concentrating her entire strength for 
a new conflict with Napoleon. 

Toward Russia on the other hand they 
were attracted by a community of race, 
language, and religion ; more important still, 
Russia had already extended to Moldavia 
and Valachia a protection of the kind which 
Serbia now desired, and had won from the 
Porte for these principalities freedom from 
Turkish occupation, freedom of religion, 
stability of government, and an equable 
rate of taxation. After much debate, a de- 
putation was dispatched to Petrograd in 
August 1804. It returned early in 1805 
with an answer favourable on the whole, 
though cautiously worded, in which Russia 



80 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
promised to support the requests that Serbia 
intended to prefer at Constantinople. 

Heartened by this assurance, the patriots 
immediately resumed hostilities against the 
Janissaries, and cleared them out of the 
whole valley of the Morava, undaunted by 
the fact that the Sultan was now determined 
to employ force to compel the Serbians to 
lay down their arms. They soon found 
themselves in a hazardous position, however. 
The Tsar, having joined forces with Austria 
against Napoleon, was already involved in 
the disastrous struggle the stages of which 
were marked by the defeats of Austerlitz, 
Jena, and Friedland; and the Porte, feeling 
secure from Russian interference, was taking 
strong action. A body of thirty thousand 
troops advanced on the Serbian frontier 
from Bosnia ; a second and even stronger 
army advanced from Bulgaria along the 
Danube, and a third started from Nish along 
the Morava. Karageorge posted three small 
armies at the Iron Gates, on the right bank 
of the Drina, and at Krushevats respectively, 
and concentrated his reserve in the Shumadia 
to await events. Defeated in a first battle, 
the Bosnian army advanced anew in over- 



THE YEAR 1804 81 

whelming numbers, and scattered the Haiduks 
of Nenadovitch, who took refuge in the 
Shumadia, while the Bosnians advanced to- 
ward Belgrade. They were presently held 
up at Mishar by fifteen hundred Haiduks ; 
Karageorge appeared a few days later with 
7000 infantry, a few pieces of ordnance, and 
2000 cavalry who made a flank attack. The 
Turks were completely routed, many were 
drowned in the Drina, and the whole of their 
camp and stores fell into the hands of the 
Serbians. The latter, 9000 strong, had beaten 
30,000 of the best troops of the Porte. 

Karageorge now hastened eastward to 
meet the 40,000 Albanians and Turks under 
Ibrahim Pasha who were battering at the 
Iron Gates. Ibrahim, rendered cautious by 
the defeat of the Bosnians, retreated into 
Bulgaria, proposed a truce, and began peace 
negotiations which were nearly completed 
on the basis of the entire independence of 
Serbia, when in October 1806 the Porte 
broke up the conference, having taken heart 
at the news of the defeat of Prussia and her 
allies at Jena. Hostilities were resumed in 
front of Belgrade, which was stormed by 
the Serbians in December. In June 1807 

F 



82 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
the town of Uzhitse was taken, and without 
any arrangement or treaty being concluded 
the Turkish yoke was shaken off for the 
time being. 

First Steps toward Organization 

There was still much to be done, however. 
The power was in the hands of turbulent 
Haiduks, whose quarrels Karageorge lacked 
any constituted authority to quell, and 
many of whom were already rallying round a 
young man who, during the recent fighting, 
had risen to some prominence, the wealthy 
Milosh Obrenovitch. The country had neither 
administration, nor laws, nor men of education 
capable of advising its leaders ; the latter 
were illiterate ; only a few of them could 
read, and hardly any could sign their name ; 
there were none fitted to act as diplomatic 
agents at foreign courts. An appeal was 
made to the much better educated Serbs from 
the districts north of the Danube and the 
Save, a number of whom readily responded. 
Dr. Philippovitch, who had studied law in 
Russia, recommended that there should be 
a Senate of twelve members, one for each 
district, which was to meet at Belgrade, 



THE YEAR 1804 83 

and that the annual meetings of the Skupsh- 
tina, or assembly of the Kneses, be resumed. 
Tribunals were established, a census was 
taken, and the collection of the taxes got 
into working order ; lastly, schools were 
founded in several towns, with a High School 
at Belgrade. Almost all the men who played 
a part of any importance in Serbia from 
1820 to 1850 were educated at this first 
Belgrade High School. 

While proceeding to set her house in order, 
Serbia was still diligently seeking alliances 
and succour abroad, with alternate appeals 
to Russia and to Austria, the Senate leaning 
toward Russia, which was at war with 
Turkey, while Karageorge would have pre- 
ferred to keep in touch with Austria, and 
thus assure himself of the co-operation of the 
Austrian Serbs. As Austria made no response, 
the Senate requested Russia to send an agent 
to Serbia, or an official who should preside 
over their body and aid them in the work 
of national organization, and in June 1807 
M. Rodophinikin was appointed agent in 
Belgrade, with instructions to assure the 
Serbians that the Tsar would use all occasions 
to help them " when once he had proofs of 



84 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

their willingness to conform in all things to 
the initiative of the Russian Government." 
The latter was to garrison the Serbian 
fortresses, to supply Serbia with arms and 
ammunition, engineers, and physicians, and 
to establish a protectorate over the country. 
This programme received a check through 
the defeat of Friedland and the treaty of 
Tilsit, which left Russia so exhausted that 
she was forced to conclude an armistice with 
the Turks and to leave Serbia to fight single- 
handed. Rodophinikin, however, remained at 
Belgrade, and notwithstanding his obnoxious 
Greek nationality, obtained considerable in- 
fluence over the chiefs as well as the Senate. 
Austria now began to feel perturbed at the 
progress of Russian influence in Serbia, and 
entered into relations with Karageorge, urging 
the great advantages he would derive from 
Austrian protection. The sympathetic atti- 
tude of Karageorge brought him into direct 
conflict with the pro-Russian Senate, who 
began to intrigue with the Russian agent 
for the removal of Karageorge from the 
Government. At the same time Russia de- 
manded explanations from Vienna, where- 
upon the Austrian Government first professed 



THE YEAR 1804 85 

total ignorance of the dealings with Kara- 
george, then laid the blame for them on 
some petty generals on the frontier. From 
this time onward Serbia, to her sorrow, 
became, and has remained, a pawn in the game 
of European diplomacy — the most important, 
perhaps, in the politics of the Near East. 

Renewal of the Struggle 

In 1808 began a new period of general 
unrest in the Balkans : the peacefully dis- 
posed Sultan Selim had been murdered by 
the Janissaries, and succeeded by the re- 
actionary and fanatical Mahmud ; Russia, 
at peace with Napoleon, had resumed war 
against the Porte ; the unhappy Serbs of 
Bosnia and Herzegovina were calling to their 
kinsmen of Serbia, and Montenegro was 
bellicose. Karageorge thought the time had 
come to strike again ; a small army crossed 
the frontier, inflicted on the Turks a bloody 
defeat at Suvodol, and destroyed the fortresses 
on the territory of Novibazar. Karageorge 
was rousing Montenegro and Herzegovina to 
action when he had to retrace his steps with 
all possible speed. A large Turkish army was 
advancing up the Danube and threatening 



86 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
Belgrade. Once again the chiefs to whom 
the defence of this line was entrusted had 
quarrelled and failed to act in unison ; 
Sindyelitch, left unsupported at Kamenitza, 
and overwhelmed, had blown up the fortress, 
involving attackers and attacked in a common 
doom ; Miloje Petrovitch had evacuated 
Deligrad and left the eastern road open. 
Karageorge, having crossed the Shumadia, 
appeared on the left bank of the Morava just 
in time to check the inroad on this line of 
defence ; the Turks advanced slowly down 
the right bank, while Karageorge kept in 
touch with them on his own side of the river, 
and sent an urgent appeal to the Tsar. A 
few Russian regiments were sent to take 
the Turkish regiments in the rear, and the 
latter were forced to beat a retreat (August 
1809). 

The struggle was renewed by the Porte in 
the spring of 1810, both on the Morava and 
on the western frontier. The Turks were 
again hurled back beyond Nish by com- 
bined Serbian and Russian forces, while in 
the west the town of Losnitsa held out until 
Karageorge had retraced his steps and brought 
the invasion to a standstill. 



THE YEAR 1804 87 

The Fatal Feud 

The year 18 11 was largely taken up with 
the constantly recurring strife between the 
party of Karageorge and insubordinate 
chiefs, among whom were to be counted the 
powerful Haiduk Veliko, and the Voyvode 
Milosh Obrenovitch. The latter's brother^ 
Milan, a declared antagonist of Karageorge, 
had recently died mysteriously while on a 
journey to Bukharest, and it was declared 
that he had been poisoned by Karageorge's 
order ; although the fact was neither 
proved nor probable, this sudden death of 
Milan was the origin of the fatal personal 
feud between the Karageorge and Obrenovitch 
houses, which for the next hundred years 
was to cast its shadow over the Serbian 
throne. For the time being, Karageorge had 
the support of the Skupshtina and the people, 
and he compelled his adversaries to submit 
or to leave the country. 

It was, indeed, no time for internal dis- 
cord : in 1812 Napoleon declared war on 
Russia, who had opened her ports to Great 
Britain, and the Tsar was compelled to make 
with the Porte, at Bukharest, a hasty treaty 



88 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

in which the provision made for Serbia was 
anything but satisfactory. The Serbians were 
granted self-government, and a general 
amnesty, with the obligation to pay tribute 
and to hand over to the Sultan all the fortresses. 
Instead of an amnesty the Turks merely 
granted to all insurgents the right to emigrate ; 
with the fortresses they demanded all arms 
and munitions of war ; the Porte further 
insisted on the return of the Turks who had 
been driven out of the country, with the 
restitution of their estates. A conference 
held at Nish in December 1812 and January 
1813 proved abortive : the Sultan insisted 
on the full status quo ante. Once again the 
Serbians lined their frontiers to resist in- 
vasion. 

The Breakdown 

Unsupported by any ally, Karageorge would 
have preferred to concentrate all his forces 
and to await the enemy in the mountains of 
the Shumadia. This has always been Serbia's 
most successful plan of campaign when hard 
pressed, and it was unquestionably the right 
one to adopt at this time. But those leaders 
who owned property near the frontiers in- 



THE YEAR 1804 89 

sisted on stationing the troops on the tradi- 
tional outer lines of defence : the Drina, the 
Save, and the Danube. In the east, the 
Haiduk Veliko undertook the defence of 
Negotin against an army of 60,000 men ; 
after a long siege and a formidable bombard- 
ment, during which he looked in vain for 
relief from Karageorge, Veliko was killed on 
the ramparts, and his Haiduks, left leaderless, 
dashed through the lines of the enemy and 
took to the mountains. The invasion of the 
Morava valley, which followed, was marked 
by atrocities as revolting as any that sully 
the pages of Turkish history ; men were every- 
where impaled, and children cast alive into 
boiling water in parody of the sacrament of 
baptism. In the west, the army, threatened 
by a body of 100,000 troops, remained in- 
active at Shabats, awaiting instructions from 
Karageorge. The latter, entrenched in the 
Shumadia, or according to others lying sick 
in his village of Topola, surrounded by grow- 
ing numbers of despondent fugitives, as the 
Serbians lost battle after battle, seemed unable 
to cope with the situation. After some weeks 
of hesitation, and of belated attempts to 
carry succour east and west, he received news 



90 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
of the loss of the positions on the Morava ; 
Belgrade lay open to the invaders, and over- 
whelmed by the completeness of the disaster, 
on December 4th, 1813, Karageorge and the 
Senate crossed the Save and took refuge in 
Austria. Serbia was left without a Govern- 
ment, the terrified people without an acknow- 
ledged leader, while the Turkish armies 
overran the country and took revenge in 
their accustomed fashion for the nine years 
of resistance that had been offered to them. 



V : MILOSH OBRENOVITCH 

The Second Rising 

Amidst the general panic and debacle, one 
man had remained cool enough to gauge the 
situation and grasp the possibilities which it 
offered both to the country and to his own 
ambitions : Milosh Obrenovitch, instead of 
abandoning the country, had gathered his 
partisans round him and taken refuge in the 
Shumadia. Cunning, unscrupulous, and un- 
fathomable, yet a patriot, and better fitted 
than Karageorge to play against the Turks 
their own game of duplicity and bribery, he 
allowed the first onset of savagery and pillage 
to pass, and waited until the Turkish leaders 
themselves found it advisable to restrain 
their troops. He then issued forth, sought 
an interview with the commander-in-chief, 
Kurschid Pasha, made his submission to the 
Sultan, in his own name and that of the nation, 
and offered himself as a mediator between the 
Turks and the Serbian people. His services 
were gladly accepted, and he contrived to 

9 1 



92 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
obtain for the prisoners of war and for the 
poorer people concessions that laid them 
under a debt of gratitude, and enormously 
increased his influence. Under a cloak of 
loyalty to the Porte, he was carefully pre- 
paring for a new rising, and he judged the 
favourable moment to have arrived after the 
overthrow of Napoleon in 1814. An irre- 
sponsible patriot named Hadgi Prodan had 
initiated a rebellion in the south at the end of 
that year, and during the ensuing agitation 
it had become obvious to the Turks that the 
Serbians had not given up all their arms in 
the previous year. Emissaries of the Pasha 
were scouring the country and using every 
possible means to force the people to reveal 
their hidden stores. Men and women were 
being flogged to death, tortured by thirst, 
hung by their feet with their head buried in 
ashes, stretched on the rack, impaled, roasted 
alive ; suspicion had at last fastened on 
Milosh himself, and he knew that his life 
hung on a thread. 

On Palm Sunday, 1815, he appeared in the 
village of Takkovo, dressed in his voyvode's 
costume, and holding aloft the national flag. 
" Here I am," he said, " and here you are — 



MILOSH OBRENOVITCH 93 

war to the Turks ! ' ' Acclaimed by the people 
as supreme chief, and soon reinforced by 
volunteers from Austria and Bosnia, Milosh 
began the campaign by a period of guerilla 
warfare which compelled the Turks to flee for 
safety across the Morava. The rapid advance 
of an army of 12,000 Ottoman troops from 
Belgrade produced a moment of panic, and 
Milosh was uncertain how to act when his 
beautiful young wife Liubitsa urged the 
patriots to take the field at any cost. The 
campaign was short and surprisingly success- 
ful ; at Valyevo, Posharevats, Karanovats, 
Duplia, the Turks were beaten or brought to 
a halt ; in the meantime the battle of Waterloo 
had been lost and won, and the aggressive 
spirit of the Porte was further chastened by 
the reappearance of Russia in the field of 
diplomacy, and consciousness of the fact that 
that country and Austria, relieved from the 
strain of continental war, were now at leisure 
to devote their attention to Ottoman affairs. 
So by a provisional arrangement that was 
come to in the autumn, Serbia recovered her 
autonomy, subject to the payment of a 
tribute and to the continued occupation of 
Belgrade by a Turkish garrison ; at the same 



94 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
time Milosh was acknowled 
Chief of the Serbian nation. 



time Milosh was acknowledged as the actual 



The Death of Karageorge 

Peace was no sooner secured, however, 
than that bane of Serbia, party strife and 
internal discord, immediately recommenced. 
The Archbishop of Belgrade and the voyvode 
Peter Moler, headed a movement against 
Milosh which cost them their lives. No 
sooner had they been executed than another 
tragic event occurred : Karageorge, who had 
been living in Russia for the last four years, 
reappeared in Serbia in July 1817, on the 
invitation of a group of Haiduks who wished 
to restore him to power, and took up his abode 
with the mayor of Semendria. Milosh sent a 
courier to Karageorge, directing him to 
leave the country at once, and wrote in 
threatening terms to the mayor. A few days 
later the head of Karageorge was brought to 
Milosh and laid at his feet. He had been, 
it would appear, murdered in his sleep ; but 
by whom, and at whose instigation, has re- 
mained a mystery, and one of the most con- 
troverted questions in Serbian history. The 
guilt has been commonly fastened on Milosh, 



MILOSH OBRENOVITCH 95 

and the murder was undoubtedly one of a 
succession of similar deeds which have been 
directly due to the deadly animosity between 
the Karageorge and Obrenovitch houses, yet 
it has been argued that some one had over- 
stepped his instructions, as Milosh, with his 
unimpulsive and calculating nature, could not 
but have realized the odium which he would 
incur through so foul an action. The signifi- 
cant fact remains that the elimination of 
Karageorge was followed on November 6th by 
the proclamation of Milosh, in an assembly of 
all the kneses and bishops, as Prince of 
Serbia. 

Peace and Prosperity 

The next few years brought new hope to 
the nation. During the War of Greek Inde- 
pendence, Milosh was careful not to compro- 
mise his country, and wrung from the Turks, 
in return for his neutrality, a number of 
valuable concessions ; the treaties of Akker- 
man (1826) and Adrianople (1829) definitely 
regularized the position of Serbia : the Porte 
solemnly acknowledged Russia's right to 
protect that country, which was granted 
religious liberty and internal autonomy, with 



96 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

the right to choose her own prince, to dis- 
pense justice, and to raise the taxes for the 
tribute. By wholesale bribery Milosh ob- 
tained in Constantinople, in 1830, a formal 
recognition as hereditary Prince of Serbia, 
much to the displeasure of Russia ; the Hatti- 
sherifs of June 6th and December 4th, 1834, 
settled the yet outstanding differences with 
the Porte ; six of the districts that had been 
torn from Serbia were restored, the amount 
of the tribute was fixed, and Turkish occu- 
pation restricted to Belgrade. 

During these years the consolidation of 
internal order and the development of the 
natural resources of the country proceeded 
apace. The increasing exportation of cattle 
and swine made a rapid improvement in the 
economic condition of the country. The 
customs levied on the Austrian frontier, which 
Milosh bought from the Turks, produced a 
continually increasing revenue. The priests 
were given a regular income, and a theological 
seminary was established, as well as a number 
of normal schools for the training of teachers. 
The civil legislation was recast on the basis 
of the Code Napoleon, and the system of 
taxation simplified. 




M. Nikola Pashitch 



96 



MILOSH OBRENOVITCH97 

Supported by his armed partisans, Milosh 
unfortunately exercised his authority in a 
manner which before 1830 had already as- 
sumed the character of arbitrary despotism. 
He took possession at his own price of what- 
ever he found desirable, land, houses, or mills, 
and burnt down one of the suburbs of Belgrade 
to rebuild it according to his fancy. He 
appropriated the monopoly of the most 
lucrative trades, enclosed the common land 
on which he reared his swine, and exacted 
from the people service akin to the mediaeval 
corvee ; thus the peasantry of Uzhitse were 
compelled to proceed yearly to Kraguyevats 
to cut and stack his hay. 

The First Constitution 

While the Prince's ambitious designs for 
the independence of his country awakened 
alarm and distrust in Russia, his arbitrary 
rule, and his haughty attitude toward the 
leaders, called forth bitter opposition from 
within. Agitation succeeded agitation j the 
chiefs who had accompanied Karageorge into 
exile had now returned to Serbia, and were 
either conspiring against Milosh or calling 
aloud for a Constitution. At last, an elaborate 

G 



98 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

plot which was discovered in 1834 made 
Milosh realize the gravity of the situation ; 
he promised to convoke the Skupshtina and 
to grant reforms. A Constitution was elabo- 
rated on a French model. The National 
Assembly was to meet every year, and to have 
the right to initiate new legislation ; legisla- 
tive power, however, would be vested in the 
Prince and in a Senate ; personal liberty and 
security of property were guaranteed, and 
serfdom was to be abolished. 

This elaborate scheme was accepted by the 
Skupshtina in February 1835, although it 
contained many inconsequences and was 
fundamentally unsuited to the simple and 
patriarchal life of the Serbians. No sooner 
was it proclaimed than it was denounced 
with wonderful unanimity by Russia, Austria, 
and the Porte ; Russia immediately sent to 
Belgrade a special agent, Baron Rickmann, 
who requested to know how the Serbians had 
dared to compile, " from all kinds of republican 
theories," a Constitution which no European 
cabinet could approve, and which was in- 
compatible with the principles of the Turkish 
Empire. Milosh asserted the right of Serbia, 
since her inner autonomy had been guaranteed 



MILOSH OBRENOVITCH 99 
by Russia, to make whatever Constitution 
she chose, and decided to ignore Baron 
Rickmann, and to go to Constantinople to con- 
fer personally with the Russian Ambassador. 
He made the journey in state, was treated 
with every mark of respect by the Turkish 
authorities at the different points of his route, 
and was received in solemn audience by the 
Sultan, who made him many costly presents. 
Russian diplomacy witnessed with displeasure 
this cordiality between Serbia and the Porte, 
although Milosh easily allowed himself to be 
persuaded that the Constitution wrung from 
him was unworkable. On his return he 
allowed it to remain a dead letter, much to 
the general indignation. 

Acute friction now arose from another 
quarter. During his stay in Constantinople, 
Milosh, intent on placing Serbia under the 
protection of the great Western Powers of 
Europe, as a check to Russian influence, had 
persuaded the representatives of several of 
these Powers to send agents to Belgrade. 
Lord Palmerston appointed as British agent 
Colonel Hodges, a man of handsome appear- 
ance and winning manners, already famous 
for his heroic conduct as chief of an English 



ioo HISTORY OF SERBIA 
Legion in Portugal during the conflict with 
Don Pedro. The arrival of Colonel Hodges, 
and the ascendancy which he soon acquired 
over Milosh, involved Serbia in the diplo- 
matic struggle between Britain and Russia, 
which was one of the features of Eastern 
politics throughout the nineteenth century. 
Although Colonel Hodges was a loyal and 
judicious adviser, this conflict, in which 
Russia openly supported the adversaries of 
Milosh, could not but prove injurious to the 
country ; Hodges laboured in vain to recon- 
cile the hostile chiefs, Vutchitch, Petronie- 
vitch, and Simitch, with the ruling Prince. 
In the meantime Russia and the leaders of 
the malcontents were working hand in hand 
with the Porte to impose on Milosh a Council 
or Senate that should share, and in reality 
limit, his authority. It was proposed that 
the Councillors should be elected for life, 
and to this Milosh refused to accede, while 
Colonel Hodges strongly urged the Porte to 
waive this point and to consent to a Council 
with a limited term of office, especially as no 
provision was being made for any regular 
consultation of the people in the affairs of 
the nation. 



MILOSH OBRENOVITCH 101 

The outcome was a defeat for British 
influence : discussion was cut short on 
December 24th by a so-called ' organic statute' 
imposing upon Milosh a controlling Senate 
of seventeen members, appointed for life. 
The Prince was forced to submit, and to take 
a share in appointing to the new body a 
number of men who were either openly or 
secretly hostile to him. 

The Fall of Milosh 

In spite of Colonel Hodges' warnings, 
Milosh had always underrated the strength 
of the opposition to his rule and the danger of 
his position, but the real meaning, intentions, 
and power of the new Council were soon made 
unmistakably plain. Deadlocks occurred at 
once, and within a month had reached a 
climax. Milosh, after twenty years of abso- 
lute rule, would not submit to be governed 
and called to account, and made a rash en- 
deavour to put down the Senate by force of 
arms. Colonel Hodges was at the time 
taking a short holiday in Hungary. The 
Senate put the Prince under arrest, convoked 
the Skupshtina, and with its support offered 
him the choice between immediate abdication 



102 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

in favour of his eldest son Milan, or deposition 
and trial by a national court of justice. 
Milosh abdicated on June 12th, and crossed 
the Save on the 15th. As he took leave of the 
crowds that stood on the bank watching his 
departure, Vutchitch threw a stone into the 
river, exclaiming : " When this stone returns 
from the bottom, you shall return to Serbia 
again! " yet Milosh expressed the conviction 
that he should die as Serbia's reigning 
sovereign. 



VI : ALEXANDER KARA- 
GEORGEVITCH 

Prince Michael's First Attempt to Rule 
Milan Obrenovitch, when he succeeded his 
father, was in the last stages of consumption, 
and died on July 8th, whereupon his brother 
Michael was chosen as Prince, with the assent 
of the Porte. As he was only seventeen years 
of age, Vutchitch and Petronievitch were 
appointed by the Senate as regents. These 
men were bitterly hostile to the Obrenovitch 
house, and had actually invited the son of 
Karageorge to return to Serbia in order to 
ingratiate himself with the people and to 
prepare them for a change of dynasty. The 
Porte realized that such a regency could only 
breed civil discord, and proclaimed Michael 
of full age. Vutchitch and Petronievitch 
were retained as ' Cabinet Councillors/ how- 
ever, until the young Prince, supported by 
the people, removed the seat of government 
to Kraguyevats, out of the reach of the 

103 



104 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Turkish garrison in Belgrade, and dismissed 
the two late regents, who took refuge in 
Constantinople. The Porte, and also Russia, 
who had until then viewed these men with 
disfavour, but who now felt even more un- 
easy at the independent attitude of Michael, 
immediately began to press for their recall 
to responsible posts ; and as the Prince would 
not give way, an aide-de-camp to the Tsar, 
Baron Lieven, was dispatched to Belgrade to 
reconcile him with his opponents. Michael at 
last decided to give an example of generosity, 
and in 1841 recalled Vutchitch and Petronie- 
vitch. 

His action cost him dear : no sooner were 
the Councillors back in Serbia, and reinstated 
in positions of influence, than they boldly 
organized an armed rebellion, and in the 
middle of the summer of 1842 fortified them- 
selves on a hill near Kraguyevats. Michael 
advanced against them with a body of 12,000 
cavalry and infantry which had been packed 
with traitors, and which broke and fled at 
the first encounter ; by the end of August 
his army had crumbled away, and the only 
course left open to him was to confess that his 
attempt to rule had been a failure, and to 



KARAGEORGEVITCH 105 
cross over to Austria. On September 14th an 
assembly of the people, convoked in Belgrade, 
and strongly influenced by the able and 
astute Eliya Garashanin, who was soon to 
become one of the foremost statesmen in 
Serbia, unanimously elected as Prince the 
son of Karageorge, Alexander Karageorge- 
vitch. 

Alexander Karageorgevitch 

The new ruler, who was of a peace-loving 
and tractable disposition, was acknowledged 
by the Sultan on November 14th ; but while 
Milosh and his sons had been proclaimed as 
hereditary princes, the Berat or Letter of 
Investiture addressed to Alexander did not 
even recognize him as elected for life ; the 
Prince of Serbia sank to the level of a function- 
ary whom the Porte could revoke at will. 
These limitations to his rule, in addition to 
those imposed by the Senate, were duly 
noted by the people, and Alexander's popu- 
larity was thus impaired from the beginning. 

The Revolution of 1848 

The five years of comparative quiet that 
followed were nevertheless marked by rapid 



106 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

progress in the social and economic position 
of the country ; Eliya Garashanin, who had 
been appointed Minister of the Interior, was 
doing much good work in the cause of educa- 
tion, and Serbia was learning to devote herself 
to the arts of peace, when in 1848 the whole 
of Europe was suddenly agitated by a violent 
upheaval. In Paris the people had risen 
against the government of King Louis-Philippe 
and proclaimed a Republic ; and this demo- 
cratic trumpet-call, following that of 1830, 
which had re-echoed so ominously through 
Europe, was the signal for wide-spread popu- 
lar risings. Prussia, Holland, Switzerland 
were compelled immediately to grant liberal 
reforms. Those countries in which the ' prin- 
ciple of nationalities ' had since 1840 become 
a rallying cry were emboldened to take up 
arms and fight for their independence. Thus 
began the movement which ultimately led to 
the integration of Italy ; thus began that 
struggle for the disintegration of the ' ram- 
shackle ' Austrian Empire, the end of which 
is not yet. To the Hungarian rebellion of 
1848 we must now give some attention, as it 
is intimately connected with Serbian affairs. 



KARAGEORGEVITCH 107 

The Southern Slav Population of Hungary 

Among the many races which make up the 
population of Hungary, the principal are the 
Serbo-Croats in the districts to the immediate 
north of the Danube and the Save, and the 
Magyars, the descendants of the Huns, who 
amount also to a large percentage of the 
whole. Czechs and Slovaks are also to be 
found in the north. Toward the Croats and 
Serbs, as toward the remainder of the hotch- 
potch of races in Hungary, the attitude 
of the Magyars has ever been arrogant, 
overbearing, and contemptuous ; to this lack 
of sympathy for, and aloofness from their 
neighbours and fellow-fighters against the 
Turks and other enemies may be largely 
attributed the fact that during a period 
extending to several centuries, no fusion of 
the various peoples of Hungary ever took 
place, and that the Serbs and Croats wholly 
retained their racial entity. 

The Policy of ' Magyarization ' 

During the twenty years before 1848, 
the Magyars had entered upon a policy of 
subjugation or of Magyarization of the Serbo- 



108 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
Croats which had evoked the bitterest oppo- 
sition. Until this time a babel of tongues 
had been avoided in the Hungarian Diet 
through the use of Latin as the official medium 
of communication and discussion ; but in 
1832 the Magyars had passed a measure sub- 
stituting Hungarian for Latin not only in the 
Diet and in all State departments, but also 
in all civil acts. Even the Croatian and 
Serbian Churches had been compelled to issue 
birth and other certificates in Hungarian. 
Prince Metternich, the Austrian statesman 
who had been a leader in the Congress of 
Vienna, was still, after more than thirty years, 
at the head of affairs in Austria. He had 
done more than any man in Europe to main- 
tain and encourage despotism, and faithful 
to his policy had given official sanction to this 
wholesale banishment of the Serbian language, 
in spite of the protests and insurrections which 
had greeted the measure. Thus had the seed 
been sown which was now to bear its fruit. 

The Serbo-Croat Rising 

On March 13th, 1848, the French revolu- 
tionary movement spread to Vienna, and the 
ministry of Metternich was overthrown ; 



KARAGEORGEVITCH 109 
within a few weeks Hungary, Bohemia, and 
Italy were fighting for independence. The 
Croats, immediately after the flight of Metter- 
nich, sent a deputation of four hundred 
members to the Emperor, to complain of 
Magyar oppression. Jellachitch, the Ban or 
Ruler of Croatia, who had gained distinction 
in fighting against the Turks, issued a pro- 
clamation to the people, in which he stated 
that recent occurrences had rendered im- 
possible any community of social or political 
life with the Magyars, advocated the estab- 
lishment of a new regime based on independ- 
ence and unity, to which a difference in 
religious creeds between members of the same 
people need be no bar, and invited the clergy 
of both the Orthodox and the Catholic faiths, 
and all the people of Slavonic blood, to enter 
into a bond of brotherhood. This significant 
manifesto produced a deep impression : the 
Magyars were threatened with that unifica- 
tion of the Serbs and Croats which they had 
consistently striven to prevent. 

The Serbo-Croat coalition speedily became 
a reality ; the Serbian Metropolitan, Raya- 
chitch, convoked a Skupshtina which met at 
Karlowitz on May 1st. A Serbian Voyvodate 



no HISTORY OF SERBIA 

was established and delimited so as to include 
Sirmia, Baranya, Batshka, and the Banat. 
The Serbian Patriarchate was restored, and 
the Serbs north of the Danube proclaimed 
independent under the rule of the Austrian 
dynasty and the Hungarian crown. Hungary 
was to form a triple Monarchy with equal 
rights and autonomy for Magyars, Czechs, and 
Serbs. A national committee, including a 
number of members from Serbia proper, was 
next appointed to direct national affairs, to 
fix more definitely the limits of the Voyvodate, 
to frame a Constitution, and to arrange for 
the holding of a Slav Congress at Prague. 

The Magyars, who were already in rebellion 
against Austria, immediately took steps to 
repress this movement. Rayachitch was 
sharply rebuked for allowing his residence 
to become the centre of the Serbian agitation, 
and enjoined to remove the seat of the ec- 
clesiastical meetings to Temisvar. Raya- 
chitch replied in Serbian that the ecclesiastical 
meetings would be discontinued, now that the 
Serbian Voyvodate had its own Skupshtina. 
The Magyar leaders rejoined that they could 
not find on the map of the Monarchy any such 
country as a Serbian Voyvodate, but only 



KARAGEORGEVITCH in 

Austrian and Hungarian provinces, and that 
any who wished to assert their Serbian 
nationality were free to ' cross the rivers.' 
At the same time part of the Hungarian army 
was sent to the south, while Jellachitch and 
the Serbian National Committee called their 
people to arms. Austrian troops were im- 
mediately ordered to the aid of Jellachitch, 
but their departure was prevented by the 
democracy of Vienna, who sympathized with 
the Magyars and rose in violent insurrection. 
The Emperor, for the second time, fled to 
Innsbruck, and war became general. A 
strong army was sent to subdue the rebel- 
lious city, which was stubbornly defended. 
Jellachitch led his Croatians and Serbs to 
the aid of the Austrian troops, and after a 
week of bloody fighting Vienna was stormed 
and the leaders of the insurrection put to 
death. 

Serbia's Difficult Position 

In this crisis the Hungarian Serbs had 
appealed to their kinsmen in Serbia for help, 
and a great number of volunteers had re- 
sponded to the call ; the Government of Prince 
Alexander was thus placed in a very difficult 



ii2 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

position. The Hungarian Serbs were in arms, 
not only for their national autonomy, but also 
for rights and liberties that the Government of 
the Principality was denying to its own people. 
To attempt to stem the tide of popular feeling 
would have seriously impaired what little 
popularity Alexander enjoyed ; yet Russia 
and the Porte insisted on Serbia maintaining 
the strictest neutrality. A National Assembly, 
hastily convoked, endorsed the attitude of 
Russia, thus relieving the Government of some 
responsibility, and the Tsar, in token of 
approval, sent Alexander Karageorgevitch 
his Order of the White Eagle together with 
an autograph letter. This, however, did not 
check the flow of departing volunteers, and 
ministerial anxiety was increased by the fact 
that the exiled Princes Milosh and Michael 
were giving generous pecuniary help to the 
Hungarian Serbs, and by their active assist- 
ance were winning general sympathy. To 
counteract this dreaded influence large quan- 
tities of ammunition were sent across the 
rivers, and when Russia was called upon to 
intervene in Austria, a Senator named Knicha- 
nin crossed over to Hungary to put himself at 
the head of the volunteers. He showed great 



KARAGEORGEVITCH 113 

courage and skill, and fought brilliantly 
against the Magyar troops. 

The l Old Order of Things ' restored 

For in the meantime the abdication of 
Ferdinand in favour of his nephew Francis 
Joseph, and the proclamation of a new 
constitution, had not pacified Hungary, and 
the Austrians had taken the field against the 
insurgents. The latter numbered 100,000 
men, mostly untrained, and were opposed by 
150,000 imperial troops and Serbo-Croats. 
But for the incredible incapacity of the 
Austrian generals, the war ought not to have 
lasted two months. The Magyars, however, 
inflamed by Kossuth and brilliantly led by 
Gorgey, drove the Austrians from their 
positions, and defeated Jellachitch at Lake 
Balaton. Austria was compelled to invoke 
the aid of Russia, who had viewed with the 
greatest anxiety the general effervescence 
in Europe, and who responded readily ; the 
insurgent state was now invaded on three 
sides, by the Serbo-Croats from the south, 
the Russians from the north, and from the 
west by the Austrians under the notorious 
general Haynau, ' the hyena of Brescia.' 

H 



ii4 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

The conflict continued for several months, and 
Gorgey did not surrender until August 1849. 
Haynau hanged eleven of the revolutionary 
generals in one day, and earned fresh infamy 
by his treatment of the Hungarian people, 
and particularly by his use of the lash upon 
women. Some of our readers may remember 
that he was mobbed when he dared to visit 
London in 1850. All that can be said in 
extenuation of his ' frightfulness ' is that 
the Magyars had themselves committed during 
the campaign many acts of savagery. At 
Mohol, on June 29th, 1848, they had effected 
a mock reconciliation with 500 Serbs, induced 
them to lay down their arms, and then opened 
fire on the defenceless band, killing a large 
number in cold blood. Similar, and worse, 
actions against the civil population of the 
Military Frontier had driven many Serbian 
families to flight across the rivers. 

With the fall of Gorgey Austria emerged 
triumphant from these eighteen months of 
strife, restored the old order of things, and 
' astonished the world by the greatness of 
her ingratitude.' None were more ill requited 
for their defence of the Austrian crown than 
the Slavs of the Military Frontier. The 



KARAGEORGEVITCH 115 
Serbian provinces were granted the empty- 
title of Voyvodate, with the promise of a 
Constitution and a ruler, but the pledges were 
never fulfilled. The Serbs had to be content 
with the assumption of the title of Grand 
Voyvode of the Serbian Voyvodate by the 
Emperor himself. 

The Crimean War 

Within the Serbian Principality, the popu- 
larity of Alexander was not enhanced by the 
decorations which Francis Joseph conferred 
on him " for contributing to the salvation of 
the dynasty and the integrity of the Empire." 
Garashanin, who was now President of the 
Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs, 
equally distrusted Russia and Austria, and 
sought to gain support for Serbia in the West, 
and particularly in France. This policy, at 
the beginning of the diplomatic conflict which 
was to lead to the Crimean War, was intoler- 
able to Russia, who demanded, and compelled, 
the immediate dismissal of the offending 
minister and the recall to power of Vutchitch 
and other Russophil statesmen. The out- 
break of hostilities in the Crimea in 1854 
placed the Principality in a very difficult 



n6 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

and complicated position. Both Turkey, the 
suzerain Power, and Russia, the protectress, 
expected and demanded Serbian support ; 
while Austria, in requital of Russian assistance 
in 1849, peremptorily forbade Serbia to take 
any part in the conflict, under a threat of 
invasion, a threat that was first supported, 
and later discouraged, by France and England. 
The outcome was that Serbia took no part in 
the war, that Russia was compelled profoundly 
to modify her plan of campaign, and that she 
thereafter attributed to Alexander's non- 
intervention her ultimate defeat. As a re- 
ward for her neutrality, the Principality was 
placed by the Treaty of Paris under a joint 
protectorate of the Great Powers, while the 
Porte retained the right to garrison the 
fortresses. 

Unpopularity of Alexander 

The people approved of none of these 
measures, and Alexander's continual sub- 
servience to Austria, at the expense of Russia, 
was so distasteful that there was a recrudes- 
cence of plotting against the Prince. In 
October 1857 a conspiracy was discovered in 
which a number of councillors, including the 



KARAGEORGEVITCH 117 

Presidents of the Senate and of the High 
Court, were implicated. The conspirators 
were tried in camera and condemned to 
death j the Powers, however, intervened, and 
would not allow the sentence to be carried out. 
Alexander's position was becoming untenable. 
The majority of the nation plainly desired the 
return of the Obrenovitch family, while a 
not inconsiderable ' French ' party were ad- 
vocating that Garashanin, who had returned 
to power after the defeat of Russia, should 
be chosen as Prince. 

To regain his waning prestige, Alexander 
decided to make a tour of the country, in 
order to give the people personal assurance 
of his devotion and goodwill. Garashanin 
and Vutchitch thereupon joined hands and 
organized a rival series of meetings, in 
which ministerial delegates denounced and 
blackened the Prince, and demanded the 
immediate convocation of a National 
Assembly. Thus Serbia offered the un- 
common spectacle of a conflict between an 
entirely worthy and well-meaning monarch 
and his own Ministers of State. Alexander 
saw himself compelled to convoke a Skupsh- 
tina, which met on November 30th (O.S.), 



n8 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

1858, St Andrew's Day, and which is known 
in Serbian annals as the ' St Andrew's 
Skupshtina.' The Assembly immediately 
showed itself hostile to the Prince, drew up 
a list of grievances, and appointed a com- 
mission of seventeen members to " see to the 
welfare of the State." This commission at 
once called upon Alexander to abdicate, and 
the next day the Assembly, amid enthusiastic 
rejoicings of the people, but to the great 
astonishment and disappointment of Garasha- 
nin and Vutchitch, proclaimed the restoration 
to power of the Obrenovitch dynasty, in the 
person of old Prince Milosh. All this was ac- 
complished in a couple of days, without pro- 
test or disturbance ; never was there so swift 
and pacific a revolution. What had been 
effected deserves this name, for it was much 
more than a change of dynasty. Not only 
was it a severe blow to Austrian prestige and 
influence, but Garashanin, Vutchitch, and the 
oligarchy which had ruled the country for the 
last fifteen years were totally undone. In the 
words of Ranke : "As in 1789 the French 
aristocracy forced Louis XVI to convoke the 
National Assembly which annihilated the 
aristocracy itself, so did the Serbian Senate 



KARAGEORGEVITCH 119 

which was composed of aristocratic usurpers 
of power, compel Prince Alexander to call 
together the Skupshtina which finally de- 
prived the Senators themselves of their in- 
fluence." Toward the memory of Alexander 
there is to-day in Serbia no ill-will ; the record 
of his private life is clean, and he was un- 
doubtedly devoted to the welfare of his 
people ; but he ruled under so unsatisfactory a 
regime, and during a period of such extreme 
political tension in the Balkans, that none 
but a statesman of the first order, gifted 
with more astuteness than moral uprightness, 
could have governed with what is commonly 
understood as ' credit and success.' 



VII: MICHAEL OBRENOVITCH 

The Return of Milosh 

Milosh, who was at Bukharest, was imme- 
diately recognized by Napoleon III and by 
the Tsar ; Turkey was compelled to follow 
suit. Austria gave a childish display of 
hostility : she forbade the Danubian Naviga- 
tion Company to place any boat at the dis- 
posal of the Prince, who nevertheless made 
a triumphal entry into Belgrade on January 
2nd, 1859. " My only care in the future/' he 
said to the people, " will be to make you 
happy, you and your children whom I love 
as well as my only son, the heir to your 
throne, Prince Michael." Thus Milosh 
immediately manifested his will that the 
title of Prince should be hereditary in his 
family, whatever might be the views of the 
Porte. 

He was now seventy-eight years of age, 
but had lost none of his self-reliance and 
energy of mind. He at once made a resistance 
to the encroachments of Austria and Turkey, 

120 



MICHAEL OBRENOVITCH121 

dared the former Power to interfere with the 
importation of arms into Serbia, and ordered 
the Turkish soldiers whom he now found 
policing the streets of Belgrade to withdraw 
within the Citadel. In his dealings with the 
people and with the servants of the State he 
was as autocratic as in the past, but much 
was forgiven him for his own sake and for 
that of Prince Michael, on whom the people 
built the highest hopes. 

The Skupshtina in the meantime proclaimed 
the heredity of the princely dignity within 
the Obrenovitch family, and made provision 
for a regency in case a minor should succeed 
to the title. The Porte, in high dudgeon 
at not being consulted, refused to ratify these 
decrees, but Milosh was in no wise daunted ; 
on May 7th, i860, he sent a deputation to 
Constantinople to demand (1) the recall of 
all Turks residing in Serbia, except those of 
the frontier garrisons, according to the agree- 
ment made in 1830 ; (2) confirmation of his 
right to the hereditary title. As the Porte 
gave an evasive answer, he solemnly declared 
before the Skupshtina, on August 22nd, that 
the Serbian people, without any regard for 
the Sultan's suzerainty, would thenceforth 



122 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

consider the two points mentioned above as 
having the force of law. 

A month after he had thus asserted the 
independence of his country, Milosh died, and 
was succeeded without discussion by his son 
Michael, " in conformity with the law of 1859." 
This was a direct challenge to the Sultan, who 
nevertheless granted a Berat or Letter of 
Investiture. It had been the custom that 
the Prince should appear at the gates of 
the Citadel to hear this document read by 
the Commissioner of the Porte, but Michael 
instructed the Pasha to hand it in at the Palace. 
The time was past for feudal subserviency. 

The Reforms of Prince Michael 

Michael was thirty-seven years old. A 
highly gifted and intelligent man, he had 
travelled extensively during his sixteen years 
of exile, had visited Berlin, Paris, London, 
given close attention to Western ideas and 
institutions, and returned to Belgrade deter- 
mined to take for his device : " The law is the 
supreme authority in Serbia." He realized 
that his country had outgrown the ' patri- 
archal ' and therefore autocratic and arbi- 
trary rule of his predecessors, and more 



MICHAEL OBRENOVITCH123 

especially of his father. His ambition was to 
complete the emancipation of his country, to 
obtain the withdrawal of the Turkish troops 
from the fortresses, to restore the ancient 
Serbian kingdom, and to unite with it Bosnia 
and Herzegovina, that were still under the 
Turkish yoke ; but acting on his motto 
1 Tempus et meum ius,' he devoted himself in 
the first place to the immediate necessities 
of the situation. These were the reconcilia- 
tion of the different political factions, the 
restriction of the powers of the Senate, which 
had made the rule of Alexander a mere sham, 
and the organization of the army. He 
showed great generosity and magnanimity 
to his most bitter opponents, placed several 
of them in responsible posts, and entrusted 
to Garashanin himself the formation of the 
first Cabinet. In August 1861 he issued 
regulations making the seventeen Senators 
severally answerable to the courts of law, 
and ordaining that the Skupshtina should 
meet every three years. The raising of the 
army had been until then a calling up of the 
clans, who responded or not as they thought 
fit ; a conscript army was now organized 
and equipped on Western models, with a 



124 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

national militia as a reserve force. Turkey, 
England, and especially Austria strongly ob- 
jected to this step, but the Prince had the 
support of Russia and France, and the reform 
was carried through. 

The Question of the Fortresses 

An opportunity now offered itself to deal 
with the question of the fortresses. The Turks, 
in spite of treaty obligations, continued to 
dwell in one of the suburbs of Belgrade, in 
proximity to the Citadel. They had their 
own magistrates and police, and all the 
measures taken by the Serbian police for the 
order, security, and health of the population 
were nullified or obstructed by the ignorance, 
indolence, and squalor of the Turkish authori- 
ties and people ; thus frequent collisions 
occurred, and intercourse between Moslems 
and Christians had lately grown more and 
more bitter and dangerous. On June 15th, 
1862, a Turkish serjeant killed a Serbian 
youth at a public fountain in Belgrade, and 
the Serbian police commissioners who inter- 
vened were fired upon by the Turkish soldiers 
and killed. The Serbian population there- 
upon attacked the guardhouses, and drove all 



MICHAEL OBRENOVITCH125 

the Turks, soldiers, and citizens into the 
Citadel. The next day, while feeling still ran 
high, the commander of the Citadel bom- 
barded the town during five hours. Although 
no very great damage was done foreign consuls 
made a strong protest, and Prince Michael 
demanded that a conference of the Powers 
should be held to put an end to so intolerable 
a situation. The conference was opened at 
Constantinople in July, and on September 4th, 
in spite of Austrian and British opposition, 
the ambassadors drew up a protocol compelling 
the Turks to evacuate all the fortresses except 
Belgrade, Feth Islam, Shabats, and Smederevo. 
All Ottomans who still resided in Serbia 
were to be withdrawn, Serbia undertaking 
to compensate those who were landowners. 
This arrangement by no means satisfied the 
Serbian demands, but on the representations 
of Sir Henry L. Bulwer, who came to Belgrade 
to confer with Michael and Garashanin, it 
was accepted as ' half a loaf.' Princess Julia, 
Michael's gifted wife, came to London at this 
time, and was successful in gaining the ear of 
prominent statesmen and in pleading the cause 
of her people. From her visit may be dated 
the beginning of that ' friendly ' interest in 



126 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Serbia on the part of Great Britain, the happy 
effects of which soon became manifest. 

Michael continued to work for the complete 
evacuation of the fortresses ; he concluded 
alliances with Montenegro, Greece, and Ru- 
mania, brought the numbers of his army up to 
100,000 men, re-armed the troops with modern 
weapons, and kept in close touch with Euro- 
pean diplomacy. His chance came in 1866, 
with the temporary ruin of Austrian prestige 
after the battle of Koniggratz, the appoint- 
ment of Lord Derby as Prime Minister of 
Great Britain, and the difficulty which the 
Porte was experiencing in quelling Christian 
unrest in Turkey. On October 29th, in a letter 
to the Grand Vizier, Michael courteously urged 
that the Sultan should give up the perfectly 
nugatory right to garrison Serbia. Pressure 
from the friendly Powers at Constantinople 
induced the Sultan to consent, the last Turkish 
soldiers were recalled, and no token remained 
of the vassality of Serbia except the yearly 
tribute, and the Turkish Crescent waving 
over the Citadel of Belgrade beside the 
Serbian Tricolour. 

Michael now applied himself to the problem 
of Bosnia, which was groaning under Turkish 



MICHAEL OBRENOVITCH127 

misrule and oppression ; he made no secret of 
his desire to add this province to the Princi- 
pality, and Paris, Vienna, and London viewed 
with some alarm the unfaltering policy and 
undisguised ambitions of the Serbian ruler. 
That Bosnia would be happier and more pros- 
perous under Serbian management was, how- 
ever, obvious to all, and as remonstrances 
availed nothing, France and Great Britain, 
to avoid a conflict, were considering the ad- 
visability of placing Bosnia under the tem- 
porary protection of Prince Michael, when the 
nation, and indeed all Europe, was startled 
by the news of the most tragic occurrence in 
Serbian history. 

The Death of Prince Michael 

During the months of March and April 1868 
a small faction of ' irreconcilables ' had been 
scheming and plotting to remove the reigning 
Prince and restore the Karageorgevitch dy- 
nasty. In these designs they were aided and 
abetted by Austria, who, always hostile to the 
Obrenovitch family, now viewed with grave 
alarm the favour in which Michael stood with 
several of the Powers and the possibility of 
his extending his rule to Bosnia, which Austria 



128 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
was already bent on acquiring. Indeed any 
increase in strength and influence on the 
part of Serbia constituted a threat to Austria, 
for already that country's gaze was fixed on 
Salonika, and the way thither lay over the 
prostrate body of the little inland State. The 
partisans of Karageorgevitch, however, real- 
ized the hopelessness of attempting to work 
on the feelings of either the people or the 
Assembly, and the only feasible plan was to 
murder the Prince and his ministers, and to 
take advantage of the confusion and terror 
which would ensue to seize the reins of 
government. Rumours of conspiracy had 
for some time been rife, but Michael had 
refused to take action until convincing evi- 
dence should be forthcoming. 

Within half an hour's drive from Belgrade 
there is a national park called Topchidere, 
surrounded by dense forest ; here the Prince 
had a summer residence, and he was accus- 
tomed to stroll through the woods every 
afternoon, en famille, and attended only by 
an aide-de-camp and a footman. Here, on the 
evening of June ioth, four men, two of whom 
belonged to the criminal class, while another 
was a lawyer recently imprisoned for forgery, 



MICHAEL OBRENOVITCH 129 

awaited the Prince's coming. On the out- 
skirts of the woods the head of the conspiracy, 
an attorney named Radovanovitch, was ready, 
on a signal from the murderers, to drive to 
Belgrade, let loose the gang who were to seek 
out and put to death the more prominent 
ministers, and take over the Government. A 
list of new State officials was already drawn 
up, and the whole plot arranged with German 
thoroughness and attention to detail. 

When Prince Michael had passed, in the 
company of three lady relatives, and attended 
by a son of Garashanin and a lackey, the 
party was shot from behind by the ambushed 
assassins ; the Prince and one of the ladies 
were killed on the spot, and Garashanin's 
son wounded. The other ladies and the 
lackey fled, shrieking for help. The murderers 
were too intent on cutting and slashing the 
bodies of their dead victims to remember 
that every minute was precious, and when 
Radovanovitch reached Belgrade, news of 
the deed had preceded him ; the garrison 
was under arms and the Minister of War 
in command ; the plot had failed. Serbia 
had indeed suffered, in the person of this 
capable, patriotic and upright ruler, an 

1 



130 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

irreparable loss, but the Assembly imme- 
diately proclaimed as Prince, Michael's 
adopted son, Milan, a grand-nephew of the 
famous Milosh. The murderers and their 
instigators paid the full penalty of their 
crime, after Michael had been laid to rest 
in the cathedral of Belgrade, mourned and 
regretted as befitted a prince who had 
deserved so well of his people. Not only 
had he definitely asserted the independence 
of Serbia, but under his rule all branches of 
education, from the elementary schools up- 
ward, had been organized on the Western 
model j the civil, penal and commercial codes 
had been brought into harmony with modern 
requirements ; the basis of taxation had been 
broadened ; a Ministry of War and a Military 
Academy had been instituted, and an army 
of 150,000 men entitled Serbia to assert her 
rank among the smaller Powers. 



VIII: MILAN OBRENOVITCH 

Milan, the only surviving Obrenovitch, was 
at that time being educated in Paris at the 
Lyc6e Louis-le-Grand, and moving too freely, 
for a boy of fourteen, in that questionable 
society of which Alphonse Daudet has left 
a searching and upon the whole faithful 
record in Les Rois en Exil. It is permissible 
to conjecture that the atmosphere of an 
English public school would have been more 
wholesome for a youth of his precocity, and 
that to his unfortunate environment in Paris 
were largely due the weaknesses which 
developed in the character and conduct of a 
ruler who combined great personal charm 
with intellectual endowments of no mean 
order. On his arrival in Belgrade on the 23rd 
of June, the Assembly appointed, to conduct 
the government until his majority, a Regency 
composed of Blaznavats, the Minister of War, 
Senator Gavrilovitch, a man of great ex- 
perience and considerable literary attain- 
ments, and Jovan Ristitch, who had been 

131 



132 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Serbian minister at Constantinople, Foreign 
Minister, and since 1865 President of the 
Council. 

The Constitution of 1869 

The Regents, among whom Ristitch was 
the outstanding figure, first secured from 
the Porte an acknowledgment of Milan as 
hereditary Prince, and then set themselves 
to frame a constitution which should give 
some satisfaction to the conflicting parties 
in the State. The most difficult question 
to be solved was the nature of the representa- 
tion to be granted to the people ; the law 
declared State officials and lawyers ineligible 
as members of the Assembly ; these officials 
formed almost the totality of the educated 
people, as 95 per cent, of the adult male popu- 
lation were agriculturists and artisans, yet it 
was feared that if they were declared eligible, 
they would speedily fill all the seats in the 
Assembly, which would then become re- 
presentative not of the nation, but of a 
bureaucracy. The following compromise was 
at last agreed upon : the legislative power 
was vested in the Prince and the Assembly. 
The latter, elected for three years, would 



MILAN OBRENOVITCH 133 

meet yearly, and control the budget. It 
would consist of 120 members, ninety of 
whom would be chosen by the nation, State 
officials and lawyers not being eligible, while 
the remaining thirty were to be chosen by 
the Prince from all classes and professions. 
Questions of great national importance were 
to be submitted to a specially convoked 
' Great National Assembly ' of 480 members. 

This experiment in government was pro- 
mulgated in 1869, and for a time appeared 
to work well. As a matter of fact the 
number of enlightened men remained at first 
in so small a minority in the Skupshtina 
that the Regents were practically masters 
of the country, supported by a colourless 
so-called 'Liberal' majority. The opposi- 
tion, within and without the Assembly, 
gradually shaped itself into two groups. A 
' Radical ' party, educated chiefly at the 
Swiss universities, favoured restriction of the 
powers of the central government, and the 
largest possible amount of local autonomy ; 
they had organized the better educated 
Serbian youth of the Balkans and of Hungary 
into a corporation called the Omladina, or 
' Young Serbia,' with strong Great Serbian 



134 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

tendencies, and this Omladina was active in 
Paris, Vienna, and Petrograd. On the other 
hand a so-called ' Progressive ' party, largely 
bred in France and in Leipzig, argued from 
the late terrible catastrophe that the country 
could only be successfully ruled by a highly 
centralized and repressive authority on the 
French model (under Napoleon III), but 
favoured the expenditure of large sums of 
money to bring Serbia into line with the 
Western Powers. In the divergent pro- 
grammes of the two opposition groups lay 
for a time the chief source of strength of the 
Government. 

The War of 1876 

Milan attained his majority in 1872, re- 
tained Ristitch as chief adviser, and won the 
goodwill of the people by a frankly Russophile 
policy, and by his antagonism to the Porte. 
The situation of Serbia's neighbours in Bosnia 
and Herzegovina had grown daily worse 
under Turkish misrule ; it was indeed com- 
parable to that of Serbia in 1804, and led 
to the same result, an insurrection which 
broke out in many quarters in 1875, and 
which conferences of the Powers, and pro- 



MILAN OBRENOVITCH 135 

grammes of reform submitted by the Porte, 
were equally unsuccessful in quelling. The 
atrocities committed by the Turks in Bulgaria, 
early in 1876, precipitated a crisis, and at the 
end of June both Serbia and Montenegro 
declared war on Turkey. The opening 
hostilities were favourable to Montenegro, 
but disastrous to Serbia, in spite of the 
leadership of the Russian general Chernyayev. 
Her 80,000 men were opposed by the pick 
of the Turkish army, 200,000 troops, including 
the Guard, under the famous general Osman 
Pasha. Then Milan made serious strategic 
mistakes ; instead of marching into Bosnia 
and joining hands with the Montenegrins, 
he massed the greater part of his army on 
the Bulgarian frontier, to shield Belgrade, 
and sent only insignificant forces west and 
south. This dispersal of strength resulted 
in defeat on every side. By the end of July 
Serbia was invaded and the Turks were 
marching down the banks of the Morava. 
Chernyayev fought desperately at Alexinats, 
but saw his positions turned, and Milan was 
compelled to make an appeal to the Great 
Powers. Europe was sympathetic ; in England 
the Liberal party, led by Gladstone, had 



136 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

denounced the Bulgarian atrocities in a 
series of public meetings, and the Daily 
News had voiced the feeling of the country 
by declaring that if the only alternative was 
to leave Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Herzegovina 
in the clutches of Turkey, or to allow these 
countries to come into the hands of Russia, 
then Russia might have them, and might 
God be with her ! Disraeli was compelled 
to take action ; on September ist he called 
upon Turkey to grant an armistice, and 
presented to the Porte a pacification pro- 
gramme which would ensure the integrity 
of Serbia, and administrative autonomy in 
the insurgent provinces and in Bulgaria. 

The Intervention of Russia 

The Turks, however, acting on their recent 
experience of the pusillanimity and help- 
lessness of European diplomacy, vouchsafed 
no answer, but proceeded with the campaign, 
and on October 29th completely defeated 
Chernyayev at Krushevats. The road to 
Belgrade was open, and Serbia might have 
succumbed, had not Russia decided to ignore 
the other Powers and to act alone. On 
October 31st her ambassador ordered the Porte 



MILAN OBRENOVITCH 137 
to sign an armistice within forty-eight hours 
or face the consequences, and the new Sultan, 
Abdul Hamid, was obliged to yield. Peace 
with Serbia, on the basis of the status quo 
ante helium, was signed on March 1st, 1877. 
In these few months the Principality had 
lost heavily in men, and suffered at the 
hands of the Turks material damage amount- 
ing to almost £7,000,000. 

In the meantime a conference of the 
Powers had met at Constantinople to discuss 
the general situation in the Balkans, and 
once again completely fooled by the Turks, 
had tamely broken up without arriving at 
any solution. Russia alone felt compelled 
to put some check on the revolting evils 
perpetrated at her very gates, and once again 
took independent action ; war was declared 
on Turkey on April 24th. The armies of the 
Tsar, at first brilliantly successful, were 
brought to a halt before Plevna, and seriously 
threatened by Osman Pasha; Serbia, how- 
ever, took the field again in December with 
43,000 men, and effected an opportune 
diversion on the Turks' left flank, in the 
course of which she captured Pirot, Vrania, 
and Nish, and marched onward to the ill- 



138 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
starred field of Kossovo, where after a space 
of five hundred years a solemn mass was 
once more celebrated at the shrine (' Gracha- 
nitsa ') of Tsar Lazar. The Serbian threat 
deflected a considerable portion of the Turkish 
forces, thus enabling the army corps of 
General Gurko to cross the Balkan range, 
after which the Russian offensive was carried 
to the very gates of Constantinople. 

The Peace of San Stefano 

During the peace negotiations which en- 
sued, Serbian expectations ran high. Ristitch 
forbore from claiming for Serbia direct re- 
presentation at San Stefano, and was content 
to leave the interests of his country in the 
hands of Russia. But Russia was in a 
very difficult position ; she had to deal not 
only with the Porte, but with the Powers, 
and to feel her way through a maze of con- 
flicting interests ; she was bent on the 
creation of a strong Bulgarian State as a 
barrier against the Turk in the eastern 
Balkans, and she was bound at the same 
time to recognize the services recently 
rendered by her ally. The Serbian claims, 
as transmitted to the Russian headquarters 



MILAN OBRENOVITCH 139 

by Colonel Katardgi, were : (1) the complete 
independence of Serbia ; (2) the annexation 
of Old Serbia and Macedonia, the Vilayet of 
Kossovo, Vidin, and the Sanjak of Novi- 
Bazar. Before the Peace of San Stefano 
could be ratified, however, it had already 
become obvious that its terms must be 
submitted to a wider tribunal. Great Britain 
strongly opposed the dismemberment of 
Turkey in Europe, while Austria, driven out 
of Italy, driven out of Germany, was more 
than ever bent on a policy of expansion 
in the Balkans, with Scutari and Salonika, 
the Adriatic and the iEgean, as her goals. 

The Treaty of Berlin 

Germany professed at that time complete 
detachment from those conflicting interests, 
" the Eastern Question not being worth 
the bones of one Pomeranian grenadier," 
so Prince Bismarck offered his services as 
1 honest broker,' and invited the Powers to 
meet in conference at Berlin. Serbia was 
represented by Jovan Ristitch, who was 
plainly told by Prince Gorchakov that Russia 
was bound to press the claims of Bulgaria, 
and that Serbia should look to Austria for 



140 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

support. This support Austria offered at a 
price, namely special trading facilities, free 
access to Salonika, and the construction by 
Serbia of a railway line toward Constanti- 
nople. On these terms Austria recommended 
the complete independence of Serbia, and 
supported her claim for the possession of 
Pirot, Vrania, Nish, and Leskovats, after the 
heroic remnants of the Serbian army had 
rescued these cities from the hands of the 
Turks. As for Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
both Russia and Great Britain had agreed, 
before ever the Berlin Conference opened, 
that they should come within the Austrian 
' sphere of influence,' and at the Confer- 
ence Austria further demanded that the 
Sanjak of Novi-Bazar be placed under the 
same regime. The avowed object of this 
latter clause was to prevent any direct com- 
munication between Serbia and Montenegro, 
and thus to keep Serbia far from the sea, 
and in strict economic dependence on Austria. 
The Principality's position was rendered even 
more insecure than in the past by the 
creation of two powerful independent neigh- 
bour States, East Rumelia and Bulgaria ; 
and the Serbs taken as a whole, now dis- 



MILAN OBRENOVITCH 141 

membered into three fragments, with Aus- 
tria thrust in between the two groups south 
of the Danube, were further removed than 
ever from their dream of union into one 
nation. 

While at San Stefano Russia had en- 
deavoured to achieve the emancipation of 
all the Christian populations in the Balkans ; 
the Treaty of Berlin, taking into consideration 
neither fundamental justice nor the legitimate 
aspirations of the peoples concerned, thrust 
Macedonia back under Turkish misrule, 
created in Bosnia and Herzegovina a 
' Balkanic Alsace-Lorraine,' and far from 
ensuring future peace, laid a sure foundation 
of disappointment, jealousy, and rancour for 
the conflicts which have arisen in our time. 

Milan's Austrian Policy 

Milan, who had hitherto been guided by 
Russia, now completely changed the policy 
of his Government, attached himself to 
Austria, and abode in Vienna for months 
at a time. As Ristitch refused to be dictated 
to by Austria in the negotiations of the year 
1880 for a commercial treaty, he was dis- 
missed and replaced by the ' Progressive ' 



142 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

ministers, Pirotshanats and Milutin Gara- 
shanin, son of Iliya Garashanin. The pro- 
gressive programme of railway building, and 
lavish expenditure in other directions, 
doubled the yearly budget, and soon in- 
creased the public debt from £300,000 to 
£12,500,000 j taxation rose to four times its 
former amount, and the revenue was largely 
mortgaged to foreign banks. While the 
Radical party, led by Nicholas Pashitch, in- 
dignantly clamoured for strict economy and 
for local autonomy at home, Milan's foreign 
policy was equally hateful to the majority 
of the nation. Agitation in Bosnia, where 
Austrian ' protection ' had materialized into 
persecution of the adherents of the Orthodox 
Church, was ignored, as was also the nationa- 
list movement of the Serbs, Croats, and 
Slovenes who under Miletitch were again 
striving to shake off Magyar oppression. In 
spite of his favourite minister Miyatovitch, 
Serbia's most acute diplomat at that time, 
who endeavoured to turn to the best account 
Austria's offers of friendship, Milan became 
a mere tool in the hands of that Power, and 
was induced to sign a secret treaty promising 
to Austria absolute possession of Bosnia 



MILAN OBRENOVITCH143 

and Herzegovina in return for ' diplomatic 
support ' of Serbia's aspirations to regain Old 
Serbia and Macedonia. This inane action, 
and the assumption by Milan of the title of 
King in 1882, exasperated both the Serbian 
people and Tsar Alexander III ; an attempt 
was made to restore the Karageorgevitch 
dynasty in the person of Prince Peter, the 
son of Alexander Karageorgevitch, and in 1883 
the Radicals rose in insurrection at Zaitshar. 
These movements were repressed with the 
utmost severity ; a number of the leaders 
were summarily shot, and Mr Pashitch 
himself narrowly escaped a fate that would 
have brought his career to an early close, 
and deprived Serbia of her greatest living 
statesman. King Milan spent most of his 
time in the gambling dens haunted by the 
Viennese nobility, where he wantonly squan- 
dered a not inconsiderable portion of his 
country's meagre income, and amidst a 
succession of Cabinet crises, continued to 
play into the hands of Austria. 

The Bulgarian War of 1885 

In 1885, as a crowning blunder, Milan, 
prompted by Germany and Austria — but 



i 4 4 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

against the wishes of his whole people, with 
whom no campaign was ever more unpopular 
— declared war on Bulgaria, to prevent the 
union of that country with Eastern Rumelia. 
A hastily assembled and scandalously ill- 
equipped Serbian army of 43,000 men, under 
the personal command of the King, crossed 
the frontier on November 16th, and advanced, 
knee-deep in snow, on Sofia. It was defeated 
on the 18th and 19th at Slivnitsa by 80,000 
Bulgarians under Prince Alexander of Batten- 
berg, was compelled to retreat, and forced 
to entrench at Pirot on the 27th. Austria, 
alarmed at the success of Russia's protegee, 
intervened, and brought about an armistice 
just in time to prevent the fall of Nish. The 
ensuing peace, which was signed at Bukharest 
in March 1886, left Serbia's frontiers intact, 
but not the reputation of her King, who had 
shown himself as little fitted to lead an army 
as he was to govern. 

Queen Natalie 

Milan's unfortunate subjects soon had 
further cause to blush for their ruler. He 
had married in 1875 a very beautiful and 
gifted daughter of the Russian Colonel 



MILAN OBRENOVITCH145 

Ketchko ; conjugal relations, however, had 
soon become strained, for Milan was anything 
but a faithful husband, and as Queen Natalie's 
sympathies were with the pro-Russian party, 
the estrangement between the royal couple 
had gradually assumed a political aspect. 
In 1886, after the unfortunate war with 
Bulgaria, Natalie left her husband, and with 
her son Alexander, born in 1876, took up 
her abode first in Russia, and later in 
Germany. In 1888 Milan demanded that 
his son should be restored to his care, and 
on the Queen's refusal, the boy was seized 
by the police at Wiesbaden, and escorted to 
Belgrade. In answer to the Queen's protests, 
Milan gave it to be understood through his 
private physician, Vladan Georgevitch, that 
Natalie refused to spoil her good looks by 
giving birth to more than one offspring, and 
in eloquent orations to the people he an- 
nounced his intention to seek another consort 
that would be more willing to ensure the 
perpetuation of the dynasty. This palace 
scandal, in which all the sympathies were 
with the Queen, Milan's shamelessly irregular 
life being known to all, culminated in a 
divorce which the Serbian Metropolitan was 

K 



146 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

compelled to grant in violation of all the 
laws of the Orthodox Church, and which 
later on was annulled. Public opinion was 
roused to the highest pitch, and the 
Progressive ministry under Garashanin re- 
signed. 

The Constitution of 1888 

Milan endeavoured to retrieve his position 
by the enactment of a new Constitution : the 
ministry became responsible to the Assembly, 
the latter controlled the budget, and was 
elected by universal suffrage. Individual 
liberty, the liberty of the Press, and the 
right of association were guaranteed. 

Then acting on one of those irresponsible 
impulses which had so often marred his rule, 
the young King — he was only thirty-five — 
suddenly decided that all the thrones in the 
world were not worth the gay life of Paris, 
which he had barely tasted twenty years 
before, and abdicated in favour of his son 
Alexander, who was twelve years of age, 
and during whose minority the executive 
power was delegated to a Regency under 
the leadership of Jovan Ristitch. 



IX: THE REIGN OF KING 
ALEXANDER 

The Regency 

Alexander's education had been even more 
demoralizing than that of his father. It had 
been entrusted to young officers who had 
brought back from Paris and Saint-Cyr more 
vices than military knowledge, and from 
Vienna a gospel of firm autocracy as the 
only means of defeating a supposed ring of 
enemies in the pay of Russia. The young 
King was anointed in the monastery of 
Jitsha on June 15th, on the five hundredth 
anniversary of the battle of Kossovo, and a 
Radical Ministry was formed, in sympathy 
with the overwhelmingly Radical Assembly 
which was returned after the new elections. 
In 1891 Queen Natalie returned to Belgrade, 
and Russian influence began once more to 
assert itself. Fear of a revolution and of 
King Milan's return led to a compromise 
by which in May 1891 the Queen left the 

147 



148 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

country and Milan was allowed one million 
francs from the civil list on condition that 
he should not re-enter Serbia during Alex- 
ander's minority. But these measures re- 
mained without any effect on the alarming 
economic situation of the country. In spite 
of all their promises the Radicals were power- 
less to bring the finances into order or to reduce 
taxation. The budget deficit grew apace, es- 
pecially as the Government could not or would 
not enforce the payment of arrears from its 
supporters ; new loans were constantly resorted 
to, and divisions between the Radical leaders 
led to frequent ministerial changes. 

The Coups d'Etat of 1892 and 1893 

On the death of one of the Regents, Protitch, 
in 1892, Ristitch foresaw that the Assembly 
would replace him by a Radical, and thus 
endanger his own position ; he therefore pro- 
ceeded to a coup d'etat : without any avowed 
motive he dismissed the Radical Ministry 
presided over by Mr Pashitch, and con- 
stituted a Liberal Government. The Skupsh- 
tina was dissolved, and the Liberals attempted 
by every possible means to terrorize the 
people into electing an Assembly that would 



RE I_G N OF A L E X A N D E R 149 

give them its support. At Goratchitch, for 
instance, when the people attempted to hold 
a meeting, as was their legal right, they were 
summarily shot ! The elections nevertheless 
returned a Radical majority. The Govern- 
ment refused to recognize their validity, 
and an insurrection was imminent, when on 
April 13th, 1893, Alexander, who was then 
sixteen years old, caused the Regents and 
ministers to be arrested during a public 
dinner, declared himself of age, deposed the 
Regency, dismissed the Government, and took 
the power into his own hands. As president 
of a new Radical-Progressive Ministry he 
selected his tutor, the moderate Radical 
Dokitch. These measures, which for a time 
gave practically unlimited power to the 
Radicals, were received with enthusiasm by 
the people and the army, but they effected 
no improvement in the situation. Finances 
remained at such a low ebb that neither the 
interest on the public debt nor the salaries 
of the State officials could be paid. 

Return of Milan. Coup d'Etat of 1894 

Alexander soon came into conflict with 
both the ministry and the Assembly, and 



150 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

in January 1894 invoked the assistance and 
advice of his father, who now returned from 
Paris. In spite of a terrible Press campaign, 
Milan and Natalie, who had in the meantime 
become ostensibly reconciled, resumed their 
positions as members of the royal family, 
and under Milan's advice, on May 21st, 
Alexander abrogated the Constitution of 
1888 and restored that of 1869. One result 
of this reactionary measure was to gag the 
Press, and in 1895 the crisis seemed to come 
to an end. Milan had again left Serbia, 
Queen Natalie had returned to Belgrade 
from Biarritz, and been received with en- 
thusiasm. The presidency of the ministry 
was entrusted to Novakovitch, a Progressive 
who was justly respected by all ; negotiations 
were opened with the Radicals and a project 
of constitution elaborated. In 1897 an in- 
trigue of Milan brought the negotiations to 
naught ; Novakovitch withdrew, and Milan 
returned and fixed himself in Belgrade. 
Appointed head of the arm}', in the reor- 
ganization of which he certainly did good 
work, he governed under the name of his 
son with a ministry of his own adherents 
presided by the notorious Vladan Georgevitch. 



REIGN OF ALEXANDER 151 

Drastic laws were passed on the liberty of 
the Press, the right of association, the system 
of election. The right to vote was withdrawn 
from all the thinking men or intelligentsia 
of Serbia : journalists, doctors, lawyers, pro- 
fessors, and officials. In July 1899 an attempt 
made against Milan by a Bosnian served as 
a pretext to strike at the Radical leaders ; 
they were implicated in a plot concocted by 
agents provocateurs, and, although innocent, 
condemned by judges in Milan's pay. 

The King's Marriage 

In June 1900 Alexander shocked the whole 
of Europe by a crowning piece of folly. 
During the temporary absence of his father 
and of the Prime Minister, he suddenly, to 
the consternation of the people, married his 
former mattresse, Draga Mashin, the widow 
of a civil engineer, a woman much older 
than himself, and of so impossible a reputation 
that the possibility, had it existed, of her 
bearing an heir to the throne, could not 
but have been revolting to the Serbian 
nation. Even Milan refused to condone this 
action. Banished from Serbia by his son, 
he died in Vienna in 190 1 under mysterious 



152 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

circumstances which suggested foul play at 
the hands of his former gambling associates. 
Under Draga's influence, Alexander initiated 
a rule of almost Neronian tyranny. The 
Radical party were terrorized by one coup 
d'etat after another ; the Queen offered 
intolerable insults to the prominent states- 
men of the Assembly, and to the officers who 
had formerly caroused with her in the demi- 
monde of Belgrade ; she roused the whole 
country to a white heat of excitement by a 
simulated accouchement, and when this myth 
was exploded began to intrigue to secure the 
succession to her own brother, a man as 
objectionable and arrogant as the Queen 
herself ; thus blunders and outrages followed 
each other under the most impossible couple 
that ever occupied a throne. 

The Tragedy of June 1903 

The end came on the night of June 10th, 
1903 ; a group of Serbian officers entered 
the palace and murdered the King and 
Queen, together with Draga's brothers, the 
Prime Minister, the Minister of War, and 
Alexander's aide-de-camp. The next day 
the army proclaimed Peter Karageorgevitch 



REIGN OF ALEXANDER 153 

King of Serbia. Thus ended the Obrenovitch 
dynasty ; its disappearance is a sad page in 
the history of Serbia, but the crime cannot 
be compared with that of 1869, when a 
worthy ruler was done to death by a gang 
of enemies of the nation. Alexander and 
his strange consort had ruled by terror, 
committed every offence, political and moral, 
and alienated every sympathy. A week 
before the murder the plot was known to 
more than one European court, yet none 
saw fit to intervene, or to give the wretched 
couple any warning of their impending fate ; 
as for the Serbian people, they received the 
news with the utmost composure, and with a 
shrug of the shoulders if not a sigh of relief. 
The Skupshtina confirmed the election of 
Prince Peter to the throne five days later, 
and Austria and Russia, who knew the 
circumstances best, immediately recognized 
his accession. The other European Powers, 
including Great Britain, refused to do so 
until the regicides were compelled to retire 
into private life in 1906. 



X: THE BOSNIAN AND 
MACEDONIAN QUESTIONS 

Peter Karageorgevitch 

Peter Karageorgevitch had spent a long 
life in exile, and was a well-known and popular 
figure in European diplomatic circles. On 
leaving the military school of Saint-Cyr, 
where he belonged to the famous Puebla 
class that has given France so many brilliant 
officers, he had fought with distinction in the 
Franco-German war of 1870-71, and been 
decorated with the cross of the Legion of 
Honour. In 1877, on the outbreak of the 
revolutionary movement in Bosnia, he had 
organized a small army and carried on for 
many months a desperate and romantic war 
against the Turks. He was further known 
as a man of scholarly taste and achievement, 
and as the translator into the Serbian language 
of John Stuart Mill's Essay on Liberty, a 
precious gift to his countrymen. In 1883 
he had increased the prestige of his family 

i54 



BOSNIA & MACEDONIA 155 
name by his marriage with the daughter of the 
Prince of Montenegro. The Serbian people 
had long desired a rapprochement with their 
sea-board neighbours, a step which Milan had 
steadily opposed, and this marriage was an 
earnest of the policy which Peter would 
pursue, should he ever be called to power. 
Thus, without conspiring or intriguing, he had 
become, since the death of his father Prince 
Alexander in 1885, a redoubtable pretender 
to the throne of Serbia. 

Prince Peter was residing in Geneva when a 
delegation presented itself to acclaim him 
King of Serbia ; in accepting the heavy 
crown that was offered him, he solemnly 
undertook to restore all the liberties of his 
people, to abide by the Constitution of 1888, 
and to devote himself entirely to the restora- 
tion of peace, goodwill, and economic pros- 
perity among his people. These promises 
King Peter has kept, and at the same time 
he has done more than any other monarch 
to help Serbia to a clear consciousness of 
her legitimate aspirations, and to prepare his 
country for their realization. 



156 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

The Annexation of Bosnia 

The three years that followed his accession 
were a period of rest and recuperation under 
the wise administration of Mr Pashitch; 
agriculture, industry and trade were encour- 
aged, and increased to an unprecedented 
extent. With the growth of trade, however, 
Serbia's position of complete economic de- 
pendence on the openly hostile or extortionate 
markets of Austria-Hungary became more 
and more impossible, and to obtain some 
relief from this thraldom she concluded in 
1906 a customs treaty with Bulgaria. Austria 
replied by a war of tariffs, the so-called 
' Pig War,' swine remaining to this day one 
of the most important items of Serbia's 
export trade. The resulting economic crisis 
greatly embittered the peasantry against the 
Dual Monarchy, and indirectly led to a 
rapprochement with Russia. Serbia, however, 
soon found new outlets in Egypt, Italy, and 
France, by way of Salonika, and was once 
more on the road to enhanced prosperity, 
when in 1908, following on the Young Turk 
revolution, Austria threw a bomb-shell among 
the European Powers by annexing Bosnia 



BOSNIA & MACEDONIA 157 

and Herzegovina. She had administered these 
provinces, under the nominal rule of the 
Sultan, for the last thirty years, but this 
departure from the status quo, and formal 
annexation without previous consultation with 
the Powers, was a deliberate tearing up of 
the scrap of paper known as the Treaty of 
Berlin. 

Serbia was in no mood to acquiesce ; her 
strenuous protest was followed by an appeal 
to the Triple Entente, which had come into 
being in 1907, and particularly to Russia. 
At the same time, the Serbian army was 
mobilized, and every preparation made to 
take the field if necessary. Russia, however, 
while endeavouring to obtain compensation 
for Serbia, counselled moderation. It was 
obvious that Count Aehrenthal's action was 
endorsed by Germany, was intended as a 
diplomatic challenge not so much to Serbia 
as to Russia herself, and was the reply to the 
latter Power's decision to throw off German 
influence in favour of an understanding with 
France and England. It was barely three 
years since Russia had signed the Treaty of 
Portsmouth with Japan, and she had only 
begun to make good those faults in her mili- 



158 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
tary organization which the Manchurian cam- 
paign had revealed ; when in March 1909 
the German Emperor stepped forward " in 
shining armour " to support the action of 
Austria, Russia and Serbia were forced to 
submit, and the Serbian Government was 
actually compelled to make an official acknow- 
ledgment to the Powers that the affairs of 
Bosnia concerned Austria alone. 

Thus a crisis was averted for the moment, 
but from that day it became obvious that 
neither Russia nor Serbia could forgive and 
forget, and that the hour of reckoning was 
merely postponed. 

Serbia's Mission and Difficulties 

During the two years that followed, Serbia 
was confronted with the following problems : 

The Jugo-Slavs, or Southern Slavs of 
Bosnia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Croatia, Mace- 
donia, and of Serbia proper, i.e. a population 
of eleven millions, were daily growing more 
conscious of their fundamental unity of race, 
language, and aspirations, and were looking 
to Serbia to lead them toward independence, 
as Piedmont had led the other Italian States 
in i860. 



BOSNIA & MACEDONIA 159 

Under the rule of the Young Turks, the 
condition of the Christian populations of 
Macedonia, consisting of Serbs, Bulgars, and 
Greeks, had lately grown so intolerable that 
the three nations concerned could no longer 
remain passive spectators of the scandalous 
terrorizing, cruelty, and slaughter to which 
they were subjected. 

Serbia's economic progress was still crippled 
for lack of access to the sea, and 

Serbia was now faced with the avowed 
and deadly hostility of Austria- Hungary, and 
the certain prospect of war on the first 
favourable opportunity. 

The Attitude of Austria 

Not only was the ' chastizing of Serbia ' 
openly discussed in Vienna and Budapest, 
but the Foreign Office in the Ballplatz was 
already intent upon finding or manufacturing 
a casus belli. Count Forgach, the Austrian 
Minister in Belgrade, had been actively 
engaged in procuring forged documents to 
implicate the Serbian Government in the 
Serbo-Croat agitation which the Magyars 
had themselves fomented, and although the 
Friedjung trial clearly brought out Forgach's 



160 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

guilt and ruined the case which Austria had 
endeavoured to build up, Count Aehrenthal's 
complicity with the forger, whose career was 
not ruined by the damning disclosures, was 
sufficient indication that some other ' inci- 
dent ' of the same nature would soon be 
forthcoming. 

The Macedonian Question 

Of these problems, that which pressed 
most urgently for a solution was the condition 
of Macedonia. This magnificent agricultural 
country was lying fallow, unproductive, terror- 
ized and demoralized, while the Christian 
elements of its scanty population prayed 
behind barricaded doors and windows for the 
day when the Turk should be sent back to 
Asia. Under the Young Turk regime things 
had gone from bad to infinitely worse ; 
1 brotherhood ' and electoral equality had 
proved a scandalous fraud j the compulsory 
enlistment of Christians in the Turkish army, 
which exists in a condition of squalor beyond 
the realization of Western peoples, had driven 
the best part of the Christian manhood to 
desert their fields and flocks, and to take 
refuge either in other countries or among 



k 




Voyvode Radomir Putnik 



1 60 



BOSNIA & MACEDONIA 161 

the mountains, where they joined the bands 
of rival political Komitadji which infested the 
country. The Turkish Committees promptly 
replaced the emigrant Christians by thousands 
of Bosnian Mussulmans of the lowest order, 
long known as the scum of the Turkish races, 
and set about ' solving the Macedonian ques- 
tion ' on their own account by the partial 
elimination and total disarmament of the 
Christian populations. The process of dis- 
armament was accompanied by scandalous 
outrage, torture, and murder, on the part both 
of the Turkish Committees and of the Bulgar 
Komitadji leaders who opposed it and forbade 
the Bulgarian Christians of the plains to 
part with their weapons. In a few months 
the Young Turks had brought matters to a 
state more revolting than had ever existed 
under Abdul Hamid. At last the Greek and 
Bulgar populations of Macedonia were com- 
pelled to unite for common measures of 
defence (1911), and the coming together of 
these irreconcilable enemies sowed the first 
seeds of the Balkan League. 

In July 1912 the troubles of Turkey, 
already involved in war with Italy, were 
increased by a fierce rising in Albania, where 

h 



162 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

the Moslem Arnauts, or landlord class, resented 
the methods by which the Young Turks had 
secured a majority in the new Parliament ; 
a few days later the Christian population of 
North Albania was also in open revolt. 

In the meantime Bulgaria, Serbia, and 
Montenegro were known to be preparing for 
war, but the Turkish Government were 
startled to learn in September 1912 that 
Greece was also making ready to mobilize. 

Formation of the Balkan League 

For some time past Mr Venezelos had been 
actively engaged in promoting an entente 
between Bulgaria and Greece, while Mr 
Hartwig, the Russian Minister at Belgrade, 
had been working to bring about a Serbo- 
Bulgarian reconciliation ; this had been so 
far effected that in March 191 2 the two 
States had signed an alliance by which 
Bulgaria engaged to send 200,000 men to 
aid Serbia in the event of Austrian aggression, 
while Serbia bound herself to provide 100,000 
men to support Bulgaria against Turkey. At 
the same time the two countries' ' spheres of 
influence ' in Macedonia had become a subject 
of negotiation . There was mutual recognition 
of the rights of Serbia over the territory 



BOSNIA & MACEDONIA 163 
extending north and west of the Shar Planina 
range, and of Bulgarian claims to the territory 
east of the River Struma. The clauses dealing 
with the ultimate disposal of the wide inter- 
vening region, extending north and south 
from Koumanovo to Monastir and the Lakes, 
belong to a secret treaty, the terms of which 
have not yet been made public, but in which 
Serbia claimed a very modest share of the 
eventual spoils of victory. In May 1912 a 
Greco-Bulgarian alliance was also signed, 
partly defensive and partly designed to pre- 
serve the peace between Christians and 
Moslems in the Balkans. Montenegro signed 
a definite alliance with Serbia in September, 
but her adhesion to the policy of the latter 
had long been assured. 

Thus was completed the chain of alliances 
known as the Balkan League. Turkey was 
at war with Italy, Albania in a state of insur- 
rection : the time was opportune to raise the 
standard of freedom and deliver Macedonia 
from the curse of Turkish rule. For Serbia a 
successful issue to the campaign meant the 
re-establishment of her political supremacy 
in Old Serbia and probably much further, 
and the possibility of cutting her way through 
to the Adriatic. 



XI : THE FIRST BALKAN WAR 

Declaration of War 

The governments of the Balkan allies now 
prepared to deliver to Turkey an ultimatum 
embodying a demand that autonomy should 
be granted to the European provinces under 
Ottoman rule ; at the same time, on Septem- 
ber 30th, they began to mobilize their forces. 
Turkey replied with similar measures. The 
Powers once again made an ineffectual at- 
tempt to intervene, and to urge patience on 
the Balkan League, while a joint Note was 
presented to Turkey inviting the immediate 
discussion of reforms. The Balkan Allies, 
however, had made up their minds not to be 
played with any longer ; by October 10th, 
when the Collective Note of the Powers to 
Turkey was presented, events had passed 
beyond the control of diplomacy. On the 
8th Montenegro had declared war and in- 
vaded Albania ; the Allies' ultimatum was 
presented in the form of an Identic Note on 
the 13th, and on the 17th Turkey, declining 

164 



FIRST BALKAN WAR 165 
further negotiations, declared war on the 

Allies. 

The Turkish Plan of Campaign 

It was obvious, from the geographical 
position of the various combatants, that 
Greece would work her way up toward 
Salonika, Serbia march south into Macedonia, 
while Bulgaria could move both south-west 
toward Salonika and south-east into Thrace. 
Greece had assumed from the outset the 
command of the sea, so that if the Allies could 
establish themselves on the line extending 
from Salonika to Adrianople, the Turkish 
forces in Albania and Macedonia would be 
cut off from all reinforcements or supplies. 
The Turkish plan of campaign was therefore 
framed as follows : to wedge in a strong 
army between the Serbian army marching up 
the valley of the Morava, and the Bulgarian 
force which, it was presumed, would march 
south-west from Kiistendil ; to forthwith 
crush the Serbians, turn against and defeat 
the Bulgarians, and advance on Sofia with 
all possible speed. The threat to Sofia would 
recall the Bulgarian army operating in Thrace 
to the defence of the capital, or, if the Bui- 



i66 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
garians decided to sacrifice Sofia, they would 
find their troops between two fires. The 
issue hung upon the ability of the Turks to 
put this strategy into operation, upon the 
ability of Serbia, who would bear the brunt of 
the onslaught, to defeat it. 

The Serbian Campaign 

The Serbian forces totalled 258,000 men, 
to which should be added fifteen territorial 
regiments equivalent to 75,000 men. They 
were divided into four armies. The first 
(125,000), under the command of Crown 
Prince Alexander, entered the Turkish terri- 
tory from Vrania and proceeded up the 
Morava valley. The second army (one Serbian 
and one Bulgarian division) descended by the 
road from Kustendil. The third army crossed 
the frontier at Prepovast. While these three 
bodies of troops converged upon Uskub, the 
fourth army was detailed to clear the Turks 
out of the Sanjak and to proceed to the 
assistance of Montenegro. 

The third army inflicted an early defeat on 
a body of Turks and Albanians at Pristina, 
took possession of the town, and advanced 
to the attack of the Kachanic Pass, through 



FIRST BALKAN WAR 167 

which lies the road to Uskub. In the mean- 
time the first army, descending from Vrania, 
unexpectedly came into touch on the 22nd 
with the main body of Turkish troops to the 
north of Koumanovo ; the Turks held strong 
positions supported by powerful artillery ; 
on the other hand the bad condition of the 
roads had delayed the progress of the Serbian 
guns, and it fell upon the infantry to bear 
alone the brunt of the fighting. 

The Battle of Koumanovo 

This began in earnest on the following 
morning, when the Turks made determined 
efforts to turn the Serbian positions, delivered 
repeated attacks, and slowly drove their 
opponents back, with severe losses, until 
midday, when artillery and reinforcements, 
hitherto delayed by the sodden condition of 
the country, at last made their appearance, 
and steadied the broken ranks of the Serbian 
army. The battle continued without marked 
advantage on either side until dusk, when the 
Turks made a supreme effort to storm the 
Serbian positions, in the face of a hail of 
shot and shrapnel. Without flinching they 
struggled on until they reached the much- 



168 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
worn Serbian lines. At this point, however, 
they were met with bayonets, and, as night 
fell, were driven back helter-skelter toward 
their own positions. On the wings the fight- 
ing had been of a less strenuous character, 
and not unfavourable to the Turks, who, in 
spite of enormous losses, judged that they had 
won the day, and telegraphed in this sense to 
their headquarters at Salonika, where there 
were scenes of wild rejoicing. 

On the morning of the 24th, the Serbians 
were joined by two divisions of the second 
army with additional guns, and an artillery 
duel took place over a front of fourteen 
miles. The Turks suffered heavily, and were 
already demoralized when the Serbian infantry 
assumed the offensive. By midday the Otto- 
man lines were forced, and the Turks in full 
flight under the pursuing fire of the Serbian 
guns. They abandoned on their way 120 
cannon, thousands of rifles, and all their 
stores and ammunition. Their scattered rem- 
nants rallied for a moment at Uskub, only to 
flee in renewed panic at the first alarm of the 
Serbian approach ; Uskub was occupied on 
the 26th, and the whole of Macedonia lay 
open to invasion, while the Bulgarian rear 



FIRST BALKAN WAR 169 

was henceforth secure from any attack or 
threat. 

The Serbians themselves only realized later 
that they had successfully disposed of the 
most important of the Turkish armies, fought 
the crucial battle of the war, and ruined the 
Turkish plan of campaign. This is however 
generally acknowledged to-day. " The first 
Balkan war was not won and lost exclusively 
upon the plains of Thrace. . . . Koumanovo 
was the decisive battle of the campaign, and 
it was the great Serbian victory of that name 
which more than any other engagement 
rendered the Balkan States masters of Mace- 
donia." x 

" The battle which dominates this cam- 
paign is the battle of Koumanovo, the 
bloodiest of all, in which a Serbian army, 
after a heroic fight, crushed the principal 
Turkish army. . . . The battle of Koumanovo 
will remain, historically, the preponderant 
battle in the Allies' War of 1912 ; it was this 
Serbian victory which allowed the Bulgarian 
armies to conquer Thrace. . . ." 2 

1 W. H. Crawfurd Price, The Balkan Cockpit, 1915. 

2 Alphonse Muzet, Aux Pays balkaniques, Paris, 
1914. See also the articles written since 1912 by such 



170 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

The Conquest of Macedonia and Albania 

On evacuating Uskub the Turks retired to 
Kuprulu, a position of great natural strength, 
which they however abandoned on November 
ist, falling back on Monastir. While four 
divisions of the first army pursued them on 
the road to Monastir, the fourth Serbian 
army occupied the Sanjak of Novi Bazar, 
driving the Turks over the Austrian frontier ; 
part of the first and second armies joined the 
Bulgarians in Thrace, the cavalry of the first 
army cleared the valley of the Vardar and 
joined hands with the Greeks, who had 
reached Salonika ; the third army occupied 
Kalkandele and proceeded to Kirchevo, 
where a strong body of Turks was defeated 
after heavy fighting on November 6th. 
Lastly two divisions marched via Prisrend 
across the snow-covered mountains of Al- 
bania, one of the most amazing military 
feats of the whole war, and swept down upon 
the coast of the Adriatic, capturing, with the 

German military experts as Colonel Emanuel and Major 
Kutschbach, who equally assert that the campaign 
in the Vardar Valley decided the entire Balkan War 
of 1912. 



FIRST BALKAN WAR 171 
help of the Montenegrins, Lyesh (Alessio) on 
November 18th, and Dratch (Durazzo) on 
the 28th. Serbia was in possession of prac- 
tically the whole of Macedonia and Albania. 
Although none of the subsequent fighting 
was on the same scale as at Koumanovo, the 
successive steps in the occupation of Mace- 
donia were marked by many heroic feats. 
Above Prilip, the birthplace of the Serbian 
national hero, Prince Marko, at the expense 
of two thousand killed and wounded, they 
stormed positions that all military ex- 
perts have deemed impregnable ; at Bitoly 
(Monastir), amid the rains and floods of an 
early winter, they waded over plains on 
which the water lay knee-deep, they forded 
breast-high, under shot and shell, broad 
and icy torrents in which every man who 
loosed his hold of his neighbour was forth- 
with swept away ; yet they ' won across/ car- 
ried with the bayonet the guns which raked 
the river, and asserted themselves in the eyes 
of the military attaches who watched them, 
as ' the finest infantry in Europe.' 

In the meantime the Bulgarian armies had 
invested (but failed to take) Adrianople, and 



172 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

worked their way through Thrace to the 
Tchataldja lines, whence they threatened 
Constantinople itself. The Greek army had 
taken and occupied Salonika on November 
8th, to the great chagrin of the Bulgarians, 
who had attempted by forced marches to 
forestall the Greeks, and who, having arrived 
too late, insisted on the simulacrum of a 
joint occupation. 

Exposition of Serbian Policy 

Turkey on November 12th made a request 
for an armistice, but would not accept the 
terms of the Allies, and determined to hold 
out on the chance of European complications 
turning to her advantage. Austria was al- 
ready working to nullify the unexpected and 
startling successes of her neighbour ; no 
sooner had the Serbian tricolour been planted 
at Dratch (Durazzo), than the Ballplatz had 
launched a demand for an independent Al- 
bania. To make the position of his country 
quite clear to the world, Mr Pashitch, on 
November 23rd, issued the following state- 
ment to the Press : 

" Serbian arms have conquered far more 
territory than Serbia intends to retain, but 



FIRST BALKAN WAR 173 

Serbian policy has established a minimum of 
territorial expansion which does no more 
than cover her co-nationals and her national 
necessities. For this minimum Serbia is 
prepared to make every sacrifice, since not 
to do so would be to be false to her national 
duty. No Serbian statesman or government 
dare betray the future welfare of the country 
by considering, for a moment even, the 
abandonment of this minimum. Serbia's 
minimum requisite to her national develop- 
ment is economic independence, save, possibly, 
in so far as regards a Customs union with her 
Allies — and a free and adequate passage to 
the Adriatic Sea on the Adriatic coast. It 
is essential that Serbia should possess about 
fifty kilometres from Alessio to Durazzo. 
This coastline would be joined to what was 
formerly Old Serbia approximately by the 
territory between a line from Durazzo to 
Ochrida Lake in the south and one from 
Alessio to Dyakova in the north." 

The London Conference 

At the end of November Austria made her 
attitude plain by mobilizing five army corps, 
a step which compelled Russia to take similar 



174 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

measures, and when a suspension of hos- 
tilities was signed on December 3rd, the 
Albanian question appeared as the most 
delicate of all the problems in the new 
territorial settlement. In the face of Austrian 
intransigence, however, full justice for Serbia 
would have been too dearly bought at the 
cost of a European war, and the London 
Conference of December and January 
1912-13, though it proved abortive, elicited 
on December 20th the following declaration : 
" The ambassadors have recommended to 
their governments, and the latter have ac- 
cepted, the principle of Albanian autonomy, 
together with a provision guaranteeing to 
Serbia commercial access to the Adriatic. 
The six governments have agreed in principle 
on these two points." With this policy the 
Powers considered that Serbia should be 
content, but even this policy has never yet 
been fully carried out. 

On the expiration of the armistice on 
February 3rd, the Turks concentrated their 
resistance in Thrace, and with fresh troops 
from Asia Minor, brought heavy pressure to 
bear on the Bulgarian army, which would 
have been compelled to loosen its grip on 



FIRST BALKAN WAR 175 
Adrianople, had it not been reinforced by 
fifty thousand Serbian troops and the powerful 
Serbian siege artillery. Under the fire of these 
guns, Adrianople, with its great garrison and 
vast stores, was compelled, after an admirable 
defence, to surrender on March 26th. On 
the 31st the Porte accepted the terms offered 
by the Powers as a condition of their media- 
tion with the Balkan Allies. 

Autonomous Albania 

The latter now proceeded to a division of 
the spoils, under the auspices of the Powers, 
whose first acts were to give the Montenegrins 
notice to quit Scutari, which they had stormed 
on April 22nd, and to improvise a new State 
under the name of Albania. The Albanian 
question has been so thoroughly discussed in 
the European Press, the ( Autonomous State ' 
which was formed, and the policy which 
presided over its formation, have fallen into 
such disrepute, that this controversy need 
hardly be reopened here. Let us merely 
remind the reader that the population of 
Albania is composed roughly as follows : 
350,000 Arnauts, or Moslem landlords, whose 
land is tilled by the Christian population 



176 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
under a feudal tenure ; 300,000 Mirdites, who 
form independent tribes or clans belonging to 
the Roman Catholic religion, and possess no 
community of interests with the Arnauts ; 
350,000 Toskan Albanians, who belong to 
the Orthodox Church, and whose sympathies 
are with the Greeks ; 100,000 Valachians 
of the Orthodox Church ; 150,000 Greeks, 
250,000 Serbs, 50,000 Bulgars, 50,000 Turks, 
and as many Jews. 

The welding of this heterogeneous mass into 
a separate State meant the perpetuation of 
the dominion of 350,000 Turks of a mediaeval 
type over a population of more than a 
million Christians ; it was a blunder the 
stupidity of which was realized by all at 
the time, a blunder that was perpetrated, 
not for its own sake, but merely to thwart 
Serbia of that access to the Adriatic 
which had been granted in principle in 
December 1912, and which Austria success- 
fully vetoed three months later. Already in 
March 191 3, Mr Bianconi, the geographer, 
wrote : 

"The overweening policy of Austria-Hun- 
gary must in the long run prove fatal to her ; 
I am firmly convinced that the task she has 



FIRST BALKAN WAR 177 

set out to accomplish in this part of the 
Balkans will constitute, through the un- 
ceasing complications which will inevitably 
follow, a constant threat to European peace." 1 

1 La Question Albanaise, Paris, 1913. 



M 



XII : THE SECOND BALKAN 
WAR 

The Terms of the Secret Treaty 
The Balkan Allies had embarked upon 
their campaign against the Turks with the 
intention of expelling them from Macedonia. 
They had never, in their most optimistic 
flights of fancy, dreamt that their success 
would be so overwhelming that the Turks 
would be driven almost out of Europe and to 
the very gates of Constantinople. Therefore 
the Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty had dealt ex- 
clusively with the question of Macedonia, it 
had not foreseen the conquest of Thrace and 
of Albania. A peace had now been arranged 
in London by the terms of which Bulgaria 
retained the whole of Thrace, while Serbia 
lost the whole of Albania. Serbia saw herself , 
despite her great sacrifices, destined to be 
the only one of the Allies to reap an inade- 
quate harvest from the war. While she would 
gain a slight increase in territory in Macedonia, 

178 



SECOND BALKAN WAR 179 

both Greece and Bulgaria would emerge 
immeasurably stronger in territory and popu- 
lation. At the same time, unless she retained 
possession of the valley of the Vardar, her 
access to Salonika would be blocked not only 
by Greece but also by Bulgaria, and she 
would be more tightly hemmed in than ever 
before. 

Serbia decided, therefore, to ask for a 
revision of the terms of her treaty of alliance 
with Bulgaria, especially as throughout the 
progress of the war she had given Bulgaria 
material assistance far beyond the terms of 
their alliance. She had supplied an army of 
50,000 men to assist the Bulgarians before 
Adrianople, had in the early months of 
1913 kept her whole army in the field 
solely in the interests of Bulgaria, and lent 
Bulgaria the siege artillery which had brought 
about the fall of Adrianople. 

Bulgaria, however, refused to entertain 
the suggestion, and expressed her intention 
of adhering to the terms of the treaty ; Serbia 
might look for compensation at the expense 
of some one else, but southern Macedonia, as 
far as Monastir and the Lakes, must be 
given up. As Bulgaria was also bent on 



180 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

forcibly occupying Salonika, the chief ' plum ' 
of the war, which had fallen to the Greeks, 
Serbia and Greece, in their common danger, 
arranged a defensive alliance which was signed 
on June ist. 

At this stage, and on the proposal of Mr 
Venezelos, the Emperor of Russia offered to 
arbitrate on the questions under discussion, 1 
and to this procedure the four interested 
Powers assented, Greece, Serbia, and Monte- 
negro in good faith, and Bulgaria, as docu- 
ments since published have amply proved, in 
order to gain time for a new concentration of 
her forces. 

Bulgaria's Treachery 

In the meantime, Bulgarian, Greek, and 
Serbian troops occupied contiguous lines, and 
their outposts mingled freely, smoking, play- 

1 The third Article of the Secret Appendix (' Annexe 
secrete ') of the Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty of Alliance of 
1912 reads as follows : " Should any difficulty arise 
concerning the interpretation and the fulfilment of any 
clause in the present Secret Appendix of the Military 
Convention, it shall be submitted for a final decision to 
Russia, as soon as one of the two contracting parties 
shall have declared that an understanding cannot 
be come to by direct negotiation." 



SECOND BALKAN WAR 181 
ing cards, and whiling away the time together. 
On the night of June 29th, the Bulgarian 
preparations being complete, without any 
declaration of hostilities they attacked their 
late Allies all along their lines, or rather 
advanced in silence and murdered them in 
their sleep. 1 Secretly prompted from Vienna 
and from Berlin, King Ferdinand had decided 
to rush into war. Thus opened a fresh 
campaign which once more spread desola- 
tion over Macedonia and drew a toll of 
40,000 lives. The events that followed sur- 
prised not only the contending nations, but 
all Europe. 

On July 3rd and 4th the Bulgarians were 
utterly routed by the Greeks at Kilkich and 
Lahana, after fierce fighting that cost the 
Greeks alone 10,000 men ; on the 6th they 
were driven in disorder out of Doiran, bereft 
of much of their artillery and stores. On 
the 9th they suffered further losses in the 
Strumnitsa valley, and at Demir Hissar, at 
the hands of a mixed body of Greek and 
Serbian troops. 

Baffled in the field, the Bulgarians, at 

1 See Dr. Dillon's article in the Contemporary Review 
of August 1913. 



182 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Nigrita, Demir Hissar, Serres, left a track of 
ruin, pillage, massacre and deeds of abomina- 
tion on which we will not dwell, but which 
has given to the expression ' Bulgarian atroci- 
ties ' a new meaning, widely different from 
that which attached to it in the days of 
Mr Gladstone. 

The Battle of the Bregalnitsa 

Meanwhile the Bulgarians had also taken 
the Serbian ist and 3rd Armies by surprise, 
captured Gievgeli, scattered the forces which 
held the bridge of Krivolak, and crossed 
the Vardar in large numbers. The Serbian 
Staff, under Voyvode Putnik, soon reacted 
against this disconcerting attack, and im- 
provised a new campaign with a promptness 
and skill which revealed, even more than the 
1 First Balkan War,' the skill and talent of 
the Serbian higher command. The bridge- 
head at Krivolak was promptly retaken^ 
and on July ist the Serbians gave battle for 
the possession of the Bregalnitsa River. The 
opposing forces were equal in numbers, and 
the Bulgarians strongly entrenched, the key 
to their position being the lofty plateau of 
Ovtche Polie. Among roadless mountains 



SECOND BALKAN WAR 183 

which gave little opportunity for subtle 
tactics, a four-days' fight consisting largely 
of bayonet charges, and exceeding in stub- 
bornness and in casualties any which had 
taken place against the Turks, gradually 
resolved itself into a decisive Serbian victory. 
It was dearly bought, but the price was 
willingly paid, for Slivnitsa, of evil memory, 
was avenged. Although the Bulgarians fought 
desperately in their retreat, the Serbian army 
was in Kotchana on the morning of July 5th. 
The Bulgarians abandoned Stip (Istib) on the 
8th and Radovishte on the 9th. Strenuous 
fighting continued for another fortnight, 
during which the Serbians maintained the 
offensive and made continuous progress, 
capturing on the 21st the heights of Little 
and Great Govedarnik. 

According to the testimony of those neutral 
observers who were in the best position to 
judge, the Bulgarians were already hopelessly 
beaten on both the Greek and Serbian fronts 
when the intervention of Rumania, whose 
troops marched unopposed toward Sofia, 
reduced them to impotence, and compelled 
them to sign an armistice at Bukharest on 
the last day of July. 



184 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

The Terms of Peace 

By the peace that ensued, Serbia shared the 
Sanjak with Montenegro, and retained Mace- 
donia north of the Ochrida-Doiran line, with 
the promise of a railway outlet on the Adriatic. 
Greece retained Salonika, and entered into 
an agreement allowing Serbia the free use 
of that port ; Bulgaria gave up to Rumania 
a considerable slice of territory north of a 
line drawn from Baltchik to Turtukai, and 
lost Adrianople and Kirk Kilisse, which the 
Turks had re-entered on July 22nd. 

During the following months there was 
keen controversy on the question whether 
full self-government, or a military administra- 
tion, should be given to the new provinces ; 
eventually the wise lead of Mr Pashitch was 
followed, and the partisans of civil rule 
and autonomy in local administration carried 
the day. 

Having settled this point in a broad and 
generous spirit, Serbia gladly hung up her 
sword, and prepared for a period of peace 
and recuperation, of social and industrial 
advancement. 



XIII : THE BREWING OF THE 
STORM 

The defeat of the Sultan's forces in all parts 
of European Turkey had been a tremendous 
blow to Austria-Hungary and especially to 
Germany, whose officers had reorganized and 
trained the Turkish army, and who, for the 
success of her schemes of expansion in Asia 
Minor and Mesopotamia, depended on her 
ascendancy in Constantinople. The defeat 
of Bulgaria, the Greek occupation of Salonika, 
and the rise in power and prestige of Serbia, 
the friend of Russia and the apostle of Jugo- 
slav or Southern Slav emancipation, consti- 
tuted for the Powers north of the Danube 
a still greater catastrophe. The high road 
to Salonika, by the valleys of the Morava and 
the Vardar, was definitely closed to Austria, 
and Germany was cut off from Turkey, whose 
army was to act in conjunction with the 
German hosts in the event of a European 
war. Only prompt action could retrieve such 

185 



186 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

a miscarrying of the Austro-German plans, 
and it is not surprising to hear that already 
in the summer of 1913, Austria was bent on 
declaring war on Serbia, and endeavoured to 
secure the support of Italy. As this support 
was not forthcoming, action was deferred for 
the moment, and a huge Army Bill was intro- 
duced in Germany to redress the balance of 
power and make ready for any eventuality. 

The Serajevo Assassinations 

Such was the position when, on June 28th 
last, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to 
the Hapsburg throne, and his consort were 
murdered in the streets of Serajevo, the 
capital of Bosnia. " There are many mysterious 
features about that tragedy. His death cer- 
tainly did not serve any Southern Slav 
interests, for, however great and dangerous 
his ambitions, he is known to have been quite 
out of sympathy with the short-sighted policy 
of repression which had hitherto found favour 
in Vienna and in Pesth, where, for various 
reasons, he had many enemies in extremely 
influential quarters. The absence of all the 
most elementary precautions for his safety 
during the visit to Serajevo, though according 



THE BREWING STORM 187 

to the Austrians themselves the whole of 
Bosnia was honeycombed with sedition, is 
an awkward fact which has not hitherto been 
explained." x 

On the morrow of the crime the Austro- 
Hungarian Press started a violent campaign 
against Serbia, openly putting upon the 
Serbian Government the responsibility for 
the crime. It availed nothing to point out 
that a country still bleeding from the wounds 
of two desperate wars, and whose most 
urgent need was a period of quiet and of 
internal consolidation, could not have chosen 
so unfavourable a moment to involve itself in 
new difficulties with a powerful neighbour ; 
it availed nothing to point out that the young 
miscreants were Austrian subjects, and that 
" Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Croatia are a seething 
pot which needs no stirring from the outside "; 2 
the Viennese Press set itself deliberately to 
spread the idea that the outrage had been 
organized in and by Serbia. Although the 
Bosnian Serbs are always referred to in 
Austria by such names as ' die Bosniaken ' 
or ' die Orthodoxen aus Bosnien/ the assassins 

1 Sir Valentine Chirol, Serbia and the Serbs, 1914. 

2 R. W. Seton-Watson, The War and Democracy, 1915. 



188 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
were referred to invariably as ' Serben/ and 
in such a manner as to give the impression 
that they were Serbs from Serbia. 

On July 3rd, when the remains of the 
Archduke and his wife were brought from 
Serajevo to Vienna, the Serbian flag was 
very properly half-masted at the Serbian 
Legation in Vienna ; noisy demonstrations 
took place in front of the Legation, and the 
incident was referred to the next day under 
the heading " Provocation by the Serbian 
Minister." 

The ' Case ' against Serbia 

In the meantime a ' case ' against Serbia, 
resting upon a secret investigation in the 
prison of Serajevo, was in course of prepara- 
tion ; it had been entrusted to Austria's 
professional forger, Count Forgach, who now 
fittingly occupied the post of permanent 
Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, and 
who in the early days of July provided the 
Hungarian Korrespondenzbureau with a 
plentiful supply of falsehoods. On July 3rd 
the following communication was issued to 
the Press : 

" The inquiries made up to the present 



THE BREWING STORM 189 
prove conclusively that this outrage is the 
work of a conspiracy. Besides the two per- 
petrators, a whole number of persons have 
been arrested, mostly young men, who are 
also, like the perpetrators, proved to have 
been employed by the Belgrade Narodna 
Odbrana (National Defence) in order to 
commit the outrage, and who were supplied 
in Belgrade with bombs and revolvers." 

The Foreign Office, however, probably 
realized that zeal was outrunning discretion, 
for on the same date, late at night, the news- 
papers received the following request : " We 
beg the Editor not to publish the report 
relating to the Serajevo outrage, which ap- 
peared in our evening's bulletin." 

From this moment profound silence fell 
upon the inquiry at Serajevo and upon the 
proceedings at the Foreign Office. The at- 
tempt to trace the crime to any responsible 
quarters in Serbia was evidently beyond 
the powers of even Count Forgach. Count 
Berchtold discontinued the usual weekly 
receptions at the Ballplatz j he refused to 
discuss the Serajevo outrage with the repre- 
sentatives of foreign countries, or if discussion 
did arise, care was taken to dispel all appre- 



190 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

hension and suspicion that Austria-Hungary 
was meditating any serious action against 
Serbia. Petrograd was assured that the step 
to be taken at Belgrade would be of a con- 
ciliatory character ; the French Ambassador 
was told that only such demands would be 
put forward as Serbia would be able to accept 
without difficulty. The Press campaign never- 
theless continued unabated and took its tone 
from the utterance of the inspired Neue Freie 
Presse : " We have to settle matters with 
Serbia by war, . . . and if it must come to 
war later, then it is better to see the matter 
through now." 

On July 20th the Serbian Minister in 
Vienna wrote to Mr Pashitch : " It is very 
difficult, almost impossible, to discover here 
anything positive as to the real intentions of 
Austria-Hungary. The mot d'ordre is to main- 
tain absolute secrecy about everything that 
is being done. Judging by the articles in our 
newspapers, Belgrade is taking an optimistic 
view of the questions pending with Austria- 
Hungary. There is, however, no place for 
optimism. There is no doubt that Austria- 
Hungary is making preparations of a serious 
character. That which is chiefly to be feared 



THE BREWING STORM 191 

and is highly probable, is that Austria is pre- 
paring for war against Serbia. The general 
conviction that prevails here is that it would 
be nothing less than suicide if Austria-Hun- 
gary once more failed to take advantage of 
the opportunity to act against Serbia. It is 
believed that the two opportunities previously 
missed — annexation of Bosnia and the Balkan 
War — have been extremely harmful to 
Austria-Hungary. In addition to this, there 
is the still more deeply rooted opinion that 
Serbia, after her two wars, is completely 
exhausted, and that a war against Serbia 
would in fact merely mean a military expe- 
dition to be concluded by a speedy occupation. 
It is also believed that such a war could be 
brought to an end before Europe could 
intervene." 

The Austrian Note 

It was at 6 p.m. on July 23rd that 
the Austro-Hungarian Minister in Belgrade 
handed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs 
the Note embodying the Demands of Austria, 
and insisting on a reply within forty-eight 
hours. 

The Serbian Government was charged with 



IQ2 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

fomenting a revolutionary propaganda having 
for its object the detachment of part of the 
territories of Austria-Hungary from the Mon- 
archy. It was asserted, though no proof was 
given, and no dossier communicated, that the 
Serajevo assassinations were planned, and 
the murderers equipped, in Belgrade. 

The following demands followed : 

" The Royal Serbian Government will pub- 
lish in the Journal Officiel of July 26th, and 
as an army Order, a condemnation of the 
anti-Austrian propaganda and of all officers 
or officials who have taken part in it. 

" The Royal Serbian Government will 
undertake besides : 

" (1) To suppress all publications inciting 
to hatred or contempt of the Austro-Hun- 
garian Monarchy, and the tendency of which 
is directed against that Power's territorial 
integrity. 

" (2) To dissolve immediately the Narodna 
Odbrana and all other societies or affiliations 
which foster an anti-Austrian propaganda. 

" (3) To eliminate without delay from the 
Serbian schools any members of the staffs 
or vehicles of instruction with anti-Austrian 
tendencies. 



THE BREWING STORM 193 

" (4) To remove from the army and the 
civil service a number of officers and officials 
guilty of anti-Austrian propaganda, whose 
names will be communicated by the Austrian 
Government. 

" (5) To accept the collaboration in Serbia 
of agents appointed by the Austro-Hungarian 
Government, for the suppression of the sub- 
versive movement. 

" (6) To institute a judicial inquiry with 
regard to the accomplices to the plot of June 
28th, residing in Serbian territory ; Austro- 
Hungarian delegates to take part in this 
investigation. 

"(7) To arrest at once Major Tankossitch 
and Milan Ciganovitch, both of whom are 
implicated in the assassination. 

" (8) To prevent the illicit trade in arms and 
explosives across the frontier, and to punish 
those who assisted the murderers to cross the 
frontier. 

" (9) To furnish explanations regarding the 
hostile and unjustifiable utterances of high 
Serbian functionaries, at home and abroad, 
since the outrage of June 28th. 

" (10) To notify the Austro-Hungarian 
Government without delay that the measures 



194 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

enumerated above have been duly carried 
out. 

1 ' A reply is expected at the latest on 
Saturday, July 25th, at 6 p.m." 

So secret had the contents of the Note been 
kept from the representatives of the Powers, 
except the German Ambassador Tschirschky, 
who was understood to have co-operated in 
drafting it, that when its contents were 
published on the 24th, all of them were dumb- 
founded. The French and British Ambassa- 
dors and the Russian Charge d' Affaires held 
the view that the step taken by Austria- 
Hungary must be considered not as a note, 
but as an ultimatum. They expressed in- 
dignation at its form, its contents, and the 
time-limit, and they also declared it to be 
inacceptable. 

It was not intended to be accepted, and 
all Vienna went wild with jubilation at the 
certainty of war, a short war and a merry one, 
or rather an ' execution,' 1 to be rushed to a 
termination before the Powers of the Entente 
had time to decide on a course of action ; for 

1 On July 25th, in a conversation with the Russian 
Chargd d' Affaires, Herrvon Jagowsaid that what Vienna 
intended against Serbia was not a war, but an execution. 



THE BREWING STORM 195 

Austria-Hungary had been assured by Herr 
von Tschirschky that the conflict would be 
localized, that Germany would keep the ring 
and that Russia must remain passive. 

It was indeed a fact that neither Serbia nor 
Russia wanted war, and before the expiration 
of the time-limit Serbia handed in a reply to 
the Note, in which she exceeded all expecta- 
tions in the direction of conciliation. 

The Serbian Government unreservedly ac- 
cepted all the demands of Austria-Hungary, 
except Nos. 5 and 6, and promised to revise 
those articles of the Constitution (e.g. Article 
22 on the liberty of the Press) which stood 
in the way of these demands. 

With regard to Nos. 5 and 6, further ex- 
planations were requested j the participation 
in the inquiries and investigations of Austrian 
functionaries could only be accepted in so 
far as it should conform with international 
equity and with the maintenance of friendly 
relations as between State and State. 

Furthermore, if the manner of carrying out 
of the different clauses enumerated above 
were not entirely satisfactory to Austria- 
Hungary, the Serbian Government was ready 
to refer any point either to the Hague Tribunal 



196 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

or to the Powers who had taken a part in the 
settlement of March 31st, 1909. 

Declaration of War 

A conciliatory answer was neither expected 
nor wanted, however ; that very evening the 
reply was rejected, and the Austrian Minister 
instructed to leave Belgrade ; on the 28th 
Austria declared war on Serbia. 

Within the next two days Austria awoke to 
the startling fact that Russia was beginning 
to move. In spite of the German Ambassa- 
dor's assurances that the Tsar would not and 
could not fight, he had decided to intervene ! 
A bully likes a fight best when his opponent 
is much smaller than himself ; at this appear- 
ance of a full-grown adversary Vienna pulled 
a very long face, and on July 31st the Ball- 
platz suddenly consented to eliminate from 
the ultimatum those demands which involved 
a violation of the sovereignty of Serbia, to 
discuss certain others, and in short to reopen 
the whole question. It was too late. Ger- 
many, having jockeyed Austria into a position 
from which there was no escape, declared 
war on Russia the next day. 



XIV : THE < PUNITIVE EX- 
PEDITIONS ' 

Early Hostilities 

When on the evening of July 25th the 
Crown Prince Alexander, acting as Prince 
Regent, signed the order for mobilization, 
Serbia was as entirely unprepared for war in 
every respect save actual experience of war- 
fare, as any country who has ever been 
summoned to take the field in self-defence. 
Little or none of the recent wastage had as 
yet been made good. The orders placed 
abroad for cannon, rifles, ammunition, cloth- 
ing, and stores had not yet been carried out ; 
heavy guns, automobiles, flying machines 
were lacking. During the campaign which 
followed, it frequently happened that a 
regiment went into the firing line with one 
rifle for every two men, those who were 
unarmed taking both the places and the 
weapons of those who fell. 
The declaration of war on the 28th was 
197 



198 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
followed by a desultory bombardment of 
Belgrade from batteries on the opposite shore 
and monitors on the river. This, however, 
was the only action taken during the first 
few days, and Austria's failure to strike while 
Belgrade lay defenceless and open to easy 
occupation is significant testimony to her 
alarm at the European situation and anxiety 
to compromise. 

It was impossible for the Serbian armies to 
line the Austro-Serbian frontier, which ex- 
tends to 340 miles, especially as in summer 
the Save and the Drina are easily forded at 
numerous points. Voyvode (Field-Marshal) 
Putnik therefore fell back upon the traditional 
lines of defence, and while the Government 
withdrew from Belgrade to Nish, he grouped 
the main armies in the Shumadia on the line 
Palanka - Arangelovats - Lazarevats, whence 
they could rapidly move either north or 
west. Strong detachments were posted at 
Valyevo and Uzhitse, and outposts stationed 
at every important point on the frontier, after 
which all that the General Staff could do was 
to wait till the enemy's plan of invasion 
materialized. 



FIRST INVASION 199 

The First Invasion 

At the beginning of August, Belgrade, 
Semendria, and Gradishte were subjected to 
vigorous bombardment, and a number of 
attempts to cross the Danube were made 
and repulsed with heavy losses, one Austrian 
regiment being practically wiped out. The 
Serbian Staff knew, however, that several 
army corps were stationed in Bosnia, and 
refused to be misled by these feints on the 
Danube. Attempts followed to cross the 
Drina at Liubovia and Ratsha, and the Save 
at Shabats, and these were looked upon as 
more significant. Desultory fighting round 
places as far apart as Obrenovats and Vishe- 
grad continued until August 12th, when the 
first penetration of Austrian troops into 
Serbia was signalled from Losnitsa. At that 
town and at Leshnitsa, the 13th Army Corps 
and two divisions of the 8th Army Corps 
effected a crossing, while on the same day 
the 4th Army Corps crossed the Save to the 
north of Shabats, and other troops the 
Drina at Zvornik and Liubovia. By the 
14th, over a front of about one hundred miles, 



200 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

six great columns had crossed the rivers, and 

were converging on Valyevo. 

The great bulk of the invaders had entered 
by the valley of the Jadar ; the 3rd Serbian 
Army and part of the 2nd Army now ad- 
vanced with all possible speed to meet them ; 
meanwhile the remainder of the 2nd Army was 
ordered to block the advance from Shabats. 
The Austrian plan was obviously to isolate 
and overwhelm the 2nd and 3rd Serbian 
Armies in the wedge of land between the 
Save, the Drina, and the Jadar; this object 
once attained, the road to Valyevo and Kragu- 
yevats lay open, and Serbia was at the mercy 
of the invader. 

On the 14th the Austrians were brought 
to a temporary halt by the Serbian detach- 
ments retreating from Losnitsa, who dug 
themselves in across the Jadar valley at 
Jarebitsa, and gave the main armies time to 
hasten westward by forced marches ; but 
the first real shock of battle came on the 
16th, when an Austrian column of close on 
80,000 men, advancing from Leshnitsa to 
the north of the Tzer Mountains, was heavily 
defeated and routed at Belikamen, two 
regiments being annihilated. Pursuing their 



FIRST INVASION 201 

advantage, the Serbians drove in a wedge 
between the Austrian forces advancing from 
Shabats and those operating south of the 
Tzer Mountains along the Jadar. From this 
moment the Shabats and the Jadar campaign 
became distinct operations. 

At the same time, south of the Tzer, a 
violent and indecisive action had taken place, 
and the Serbians were at length compelled 
to evacuate Jarebitsa on rinding their left 
wing threatened by a force advancing, in 
hitherto unsuspected strength, from Krupany. 
The retirement was completed by the morning 
of the 17th. 

The Battle of the Jadar 

On August 18th the Crown Prince, having 
thrown the Austrians back upon Shabats, and 
brought up reinforcements south of the Tzer, 
deployed his army on a front of thirty-five 
miles, extending from Leshnitsa to the neigh- 
bourhood of Liubovia. Inspired with memo- 
ries of Koumanovo and Prilip, the Serbians 
gradually forced their way westward, along 
the Tzer and Iverak ranges, and down each 
bank of the Jadar, throwing the enemy back 
upon Leshnitsa and Losnitsa. 



202 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

August 19th was the decisive day of the 
struggle ; the Austrians gave way at every 
point; their retreat along the valleys was 
shelled by the Serbian guns advancing along 
the intervening heights, and gradually con- 
verted into a rout, in which rifle and bayonet 
completed the work of the guns. By the 23rd 
the Serbian armies, after taking quantities 
of prisoners and artillery, had hurled what was 
left of the Austrians back across the Drina. 
Thus ended the five days' engagement which 
will be known as the Battle of the Jadar. 

Evacuation of Shabats 

In the meantime strong Serbian forces had 
crossed the Dobrava Valley, and advanced 
on Shabats, round which the Austrians had 
fortified a wide circle. Violent fighting took 
place on the 21st and 22nd, on which day the 
Serbian troops worked their way round to 
the western approaches of the town. They 
tightened their cordon on the 23rd, and during 
the night brought up siege artillery. When 
the bombardment was begun on the morning of 
the 24th, it was discovered that the Austrians 
had decamped, after murdering in cold blood 
fifty-eight prisoners from the 13th and 14th 



FIRST INVASION 203 

Serbian Regiments, whose bodies were found 
piled up in three rows in a private house. By 
4 p.m. the Serbians had reached the banks 
of the Save, and the first invasion of Serbia 
was at an end. The Austrians' explanation 
of their retreat, after the ' successful accom- 
plishment ' of their incursion into the enemy's 
territory, on account of more important 
operations at other points, is still fresh in 
public memory. 

As a result of their attempt to ' execute ' 
Serbia, the Austrians had lost 8000 dead, 
4000 prisoners, and about 30,000 wounded ; 
46 cannon, 30 machine guns, and 140 am- 
munition wagons, besides an enormous mass 
of stores and transport. 

The Serbian troops had lost 3000 dead and 
15,000 wounded. 

" Toward such a population there is room for 
no feelings of humanity or generosity " 

As for the civil population of the districts 
invaded, they had been treated with a dis- 
regard of every law of civilized warfare, and 
a fiendish refinement of cruelty and malice, 
probably without parallel in modern history. 
The instructions issued to the Austrian troops, 



204 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

under the form of leaflets, began with the 
words : " You are going into a hostile country 
the population of which is animated by 
fanatical hatred, and in which murder is 
rife in all classes of society. . . . Toward such 
a population there is room for no feelings 
of humanity or generosity." The procedure 
adopted was, on entering any town or village, 
to shoot out of hand either the mayor or a 
number of selected inhabitants (amounting to 
fifty at Leshnitsa), in order to ' inspire terror '; 
to secure hostages among those that remained, 
and to take prisoners and remove to Austria 
the youths under military age, " in order that 
King Peter might remain without soldiers 
for some years." 

At the same time, the troops were given to 
understand that this campaign was an execu- 
tion, and that they might not only loot and 
burn and ruin, but murder, violate and torture 
at will, " because these people were Serbians." 
The pent-up hatred and natural instincts of 
the Magyar found expression in deeds which 
could not, without offence, be described here ; 
as a mild example we may cite the case of a 
man who in the village of Dvorska was tied to 
a mill-wheel ; knifing him as he was whirled 



FIRST INVASION 205 

round was then engaged in by the soldiers as a 
game of skill. 

Extortion of money from a woman by 
the threat to kill her babe was common, and 
generally followed by the murder of both ; 
wanton mutilation was commoner still ; all 
this during the invasion. The history of the 
Austrian retreat is probably one of the 
blackest chapters in the history of mankind ; 
whole families were burnt alive, or systemati- 
cally bayoneted and laid out in rows by the 
roadside ; the treatment of the female popu- 
lation can only be hinted at, in their case the 
final act of murder must be looked on as a 
crowning mercy. 

In the track of the army that fell back 
on Losnitsa followed a small group of 
doctors, officials and engineers, of Serbian, 
Dutch, and Swiss nationality, who reported 
circumstantially, and photographed, what 
they found. A day will come when the in- 
dictment thus constituted must be met by 
the Magyar race at the bar of public opinion. 

It was not to be expected that Austria 
would accept as definite the blow inflicted on 
her military prestige at the battle of the 
Jadar. Having made good their losses in 



206 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

men and equipment, the enemy returned to 
the attack in September, and made a fresh 
attempt to invade the Matchva district and 
to occupy the left bank of the Jadar. 

They were brought to an early halt, and 
again flung back across the Drina and the 
Save, retaining possession only of some of the 
heights of the Guchevo and Boranya Moun- 
tains, with the territory to the immediate 
west, and of a small tract of land in the 
Matchva plain which was commanded by 
the guns of the river monitors. For six 
weeks they were held in these positions by 
the Serbian armies, who defended a line of 
close on a hundred miles of trenches with 
totally inadequate forces and supplies, and 
under a strain which no troops could endure 
for any length of time. 

The Second Invasion 

By the beginning of November a retirement 
on to a shorter and stronger line of defence 
became imperative, and the Staff decided 
to move right back to the Kolubara River. 
The Austrians immediately advanced in over- 
whelming numbers, and five columns, totalling 
250 battalions of infantry, with their artillery 



SECOND INVASION 207 
and cavalry, streamed into the north-western 
territory. After fierce fighting they gained 
command of the Suvobor Mountains, the key 
to the whole district ; this catastrophe made 
it impossible to hold the Kolubara line, 
Belgrade was evacuated, and preparations 
were made to abandon if need be Kraguyevats 
and the arsenal. By the end of November 
the Austrians had extended on a line reaching 
from Tchatchak to Belgrade, and were pre- 
paring to swing round, with the Suvobor 
Mountains as a pivot, on to Mladenovats to 
to north-east, and toward Kraguyevats to 
the south-east, an enveloping movement 
which must have ended in the capture of the 
whole Serbian army. 

The weak resistance hitherto opposed to 
the Austrian invasion was not due, however, 
to lack of stamina or a deterioration of moral 
among the Serbian troops, fatigued and worn 
though they certainly were. Retreat was 
made imperative by an almost total lack of 
ammunition, either for rifles or for the artillery. 
The bulk of the Serbian field ordnance is of 
French manufacture, and the French were 
themselves too hard pressed to make regular 
deliveries of shells. Whole batteries of guns 



208 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

were reduced to six rounds apiece, which 
were held in reserve against an extreme 
emergency. At the same time the retreat 
was in part deliberate and carefully planned, 
for when later Voyvode Putnik was asked 
how he had effected the crushing defeat of 
the Austro-Hungarian troops, he answered 
laconically : " All my strategy consisted in 
placing between the enemy's fighting line and 
their impedimenta, the Serbian national mud." 
By the end of November new guns and 
large supplies of ammunition from the British 
ordnance factories had been landed and were 
being conveyed into Serbia with all possible 
dispatch. At some points of the line of battle 
the position was almost desperate, and it may 
not be without interest to repeat here an 
incident which occurred at this time and 
which was related to the writer by King 
Peter's cousin, Prince Alexis Karageorgevitch, 
on the occasion of the latter's recent visit to 
London. The aged ruler of Serbia mounted 
his charger and rode up to the trenches where 
his brave peasants crouched with bayonets 
fixed to empty rifles, and exclaimed : " My 
dear brethren, you have sworn allegiance to 
your country and to your King : of this latter 



SECOND INVASION 209 
oath I release you. You are at liberty to 
return to your homes ; your aged King has 
come to take your place, for you must be 
more than worn out." With these words he 
dashed forward, his drawn sword in his right 
hand, and a Browning pistol in his left. His 
peasants followed with a cheer, and made a 
bayonet charge which caused a panic in 
the enemy's lines. 

The Austrian Debacle 

In the meantime the long-expected am- 
munition had arrived, and on December 3rd, 
to the Austrians' amazement, the whole of 
their front was subjected to a sudden and 
violent offensive. On the 4th Suvobor was 
stormed, the Austrian centre was pierced, and 
the right wing scattered in headlong flight 
along the road to Valyevo. By the 7th 
the Serbians were back on a line extending 
from Lazarevats to Valyevo, and thence to 
Uzhitse, and the enemy fleeing toward the 
Drina, which they crossed in disorder two 
days later. 

The Austrian right clung to their positions 
for a few days to the north and west of 
Mladenovats, and on the 7th and 8th made 





210 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

determined efforts to break through. They 
were repulsed with fearful losses and compelled 
to give ground, though they fought with the 
greatest obstinacy at every step of their 
retreat ; on the 12th they were compelled 
to fall back upon Belgrade. The heights to 
the south of the capital had been fortified with 
extensive earthworks and gun emplacements, 
and formed positions of great strength, but 
the Austrian troops were by now too demora- 
lized to hold them, and gave way on the 
14th. They were still fleeing across the Save 
when on the morning of the 15th some 
Serbian batteries unlimbered on the sur- 
rounding heights and shelled the pontoon 
bridge, rendering further escape impossible. 

The Austrians left behind them over 
40,000 prisoners and hundreds of guns, 
with the transport and stores of a vast army. 

So extraordinary was the Serbian rally, 
and so overwhelming the catastrophe that 
had befallen the Austrian arms, that for some 
days Europe refused to credit the news from 
Belgrade. As its full import was grasped, 
the Allies also realized their indebtedness 
to their Balkan Ally ; nor, we are well aware, 
will it on the day of reckoning be forgotten. 



PART II : NATIONAL BELIEFS 
AND CUSTOMS 




Vuk Karadgitch 



213 



NATIONAL BELIEFS AND 
CUSTOMS 

General Characteristics 

The Serbs inhabiting the present kingdom 
of Serbia, having mixed with the ancient 
indigenous population of the Balkan Penin- 
sula, have not preserved their true national 
type. They have mostly brown visages and 
dark hair ; very rarely are blonde or other 
complexions to be seen. The Bosniaks, or 
Serbs inhabiting Bosnia, are considered to be 
the most typical, and to have most strongly 
retained the national characteristics of the 
pure Southern-Slavonic or Jugoslav race. 
The average Serb has a rather lively tempera- 
ment ; he is highly sensitive and very emo- 
tional. His enthusiasm is quickly roused, 
but most emotions with him are, as a rule, 
of short duration. However, he is extremely 
active and sometimes persistent. Truly 
patriotic, he is always ready to sacrifice his 
life and property for national interests, which 
he understands particularly well, thanks to 

213 



214 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

his intimate knowledge of the ancient history 
of his people, transmitted to him from genera- 
tion to generation through the medium of 
popular epic poetry composed in very simple 
decasyllabic blank verse — entirely Serbian in 
its origin. He is extremely courageous and 
always ready for war. Although patriarchal 
and conservative in everything national, he 
is ready and willing to accept new ideas. But 
he has remained behind other countries in 
agricultural and industrial pursuits. Very 
submissive in his Zadruga x and obedient to 
his superiors, he is often despotic when 
elevated to power. The history of all the 
Southern Slavs pictures a series of violations, 
depositions, political upheavals, achieved 
sometimes by the most cruel means and acts 
of treachery ; all mainly due to the innate 
and hitherto inexpugnable faults character- 
istic of the race, such as jealousy and an 
inordinate desire for power. These faults, of 

1 The male members of a Serbian family continue to 
live after marriage in the paternal home. If the house 
is too small to accommodate the young couple, an 
annexe is built. The home may be frequently enlarged 
in this way, and as many as eighty members of a family 
have been known to reside together. See Introduction, 
p. 28. 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 215 

course, have been most apparent in the nobles, 
and to these faults is partly due the decay 
of the ancient aristocracy throughout the 
Balkans. 

Paganism and Religion 

There is available but slender material con- 
cerning the pre-Christian history of the 
Southern-Slavonic races, and their worship 
of nature has not been adequately studied. 
Immediately after the Slavonic immigration 
into the Balkan Peninsula during the seventh 
and eighth centuries, Christianity, which was 
already deeply rooted in the Byzantines, easily 
destroyed the ancient faith. The last sur- 
vivors of paganism lived in the western part 
of the peninsula, in the regions round the 
River Neretva, and these were converted to 
Christianity during the reign of Basil I. A 
number of Croatians had been converted to 
Christianity as early even as the seventh 
century, and had established an episcopate 
at Zagreb (Agram). In the course of some 
thousand years Graeco-Oriental myths and 
legends, ancient Illyrian and Roman propa- 
ganda and Christian legends and apocryphal 
writings exercised so great an influence upon 



216 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
the ancient religions of the Southern-Slavonic 
peoples that it is impossible to unravel from 
the tangled skein of such evidence as is avail- 
able a purely Southern-Slavonic mythology. 

The Gods Peroon and Volos 

Of Peroon, the Russian God of Thunder, by 
whom the Russian pagans used to swear in 
their treaties and conventions concluded with 
the Byzantines during the tenth century, 
only a few insignificant traces remain. There 
is a village named ' Peroon ' near Spalato ; 
a small number of persons in Montenegro bear 
the name ; l and it is preserved also in the 
name of a plant, ' Peroonika ' (iris), which is 
dedicated to the god. There is hardly a 
cottage-garden in the Serbian villages where 
one does not see the iris growing by the side 
of the house-leek (Tchuvar-Koutchye). The 
Serbians say that the god lives still in the 
person of St Elias (Elijah), and Serbian 
peasants believe that this saint possesses 
the power of controlling lightning and thunder. 
They also believe that St Elias has a sister 

1 One of the principal characters in King Nicholas's 
drama The Empress of the Balkans is a warrior called 
' Peroon.' 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 217 
' Ognyena Maria ' (Mary the Fiery One), who 
frequently acts as his counsellor. 

From the Russian God of Cattle, ' Volos,' 
the city ' Veless ' has obtained its name ; 
also a village in the western part of Serbia, 
and there is a small village on the lower 
Danube called ' Velessnitza.' But the closest 
derivative appears in the Serbian word ' Vo/ 
or ' Voll ' (in the singular), ' Volovi ' (in the 
plural) which means ' Ox.' 

The Sun God 

Other phenomena of nature were also 
personified and venerated as gods. The Sun 
god, ' Daybog ' (in Russian ' Daszbog,' mean- 
ing literally ' Give, O God ! '), whose idols are 
found in the group of idols in Kief, and whose 
name reappears as a proper name of persons 
in Russia, Moldavia, and Poland, is to the 
Serbians the personification of sunshine, life, 
prosperity and, indeed, of everything good. 
But there have been found no remains of 
idols representing the god ' Daybog ' among 
the Southern-Slavonic peoples, as with the 
Russians, who made figures of him in wood, 
with head of silver and moustache of gold. 



218 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

The Veele 

The Serbian legends preserve to this day 
interesting traces of the worship of those 
pagan gods, and of minor deities which still 
occupy a considerable place in the national 
superstition. The vv^ai and Trora/xo/ men- 
tioned by the Greek historian Procope, as 
inferior female divinities inhabiting groves, 
forests, fountains, rivers or lakes, seem to 
have been retained in the Serbian Veela (or 
Vila — in the singular ; Veele or Vile — in the 
plural). There are several fountains called 
' Vilin Izvor ' in Montenegro {e.g. on Mount 
Kom), as also in the district of Rudnik in 
Serbia. During the Renaissance the Serbian 
poets of Ragusa and other cities of Dalmatia 
made frequent reference to the nymphs, 
dryads, and oreads beloved by them as 
1 veele.' The Serbian bards or troubadours 
from the early fourteenth century to our day 
have ever glorified and sung of the veele, des- 
cribing them as very beautiful and eternally 
young, robed in the whitest and finest gauze, 
with shimmering golden hair flowing down 
over snow-white bosoms, and voices of a 
haunting sweetness. They were sometimes 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 219 
armed with bows and arrows. Their melo- 
dious songs were often heard on the borders 
of the lakes or in the meadows hidden deep 
in the forests, or on high mountain-peaks 
beyond the clouds. They also loved to dance, 
and their rings are called ' Vrzino [or Vilino] 
Kollo.' In Mount Kom in Montenegro, there 
is one of these rings which measures about 
twenty yards across and is called ' Vilino 
Kollo.' The Treaty of Berlin mentions an- 
other situated between Vrania and Kiistandil, 
on the old Serbo-Bulgarian frontier. When 
veele were dancing nobody dare disturb them, 
for they could be very hostile to men. Like 
the Greek nymphs, veele were also, at times, 
amicably disposed, and on occasions they 
assisted the heroes. They could become the 
sisters of men and of women, and could even 
marry and have offspring ; nor were they by 
any means invulnerable. Prince Marko, the 
favourite hero of the Serbians, was endowed 
with superhuman strength by a veela who 
also presented him with a most wonderful 
charger, ' Sharatz,' which was, indeed, almost 
human. A veela also became his possestrima 
(Spiritual sister, or * sister-in-God '), and when 
Marko was in urgent need of help, she would 



220 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

descend from the clouds and assist him, though 
she refused to aid him if he fought duels on 
Sundays. On one occasion Marko all but 
slew the Veela Raviyoyla, who had wounded 
his pobratim (brother-in-God) Voyvode Milosh. 
But the veele were wise in the use of herbs, 
and knew the properties of every flower and 
berry, therefore Raviyoyla was able to heal 
the wounds of Milosh, and his pierced heart 
was " sounder than ever before." The veele 
also possessed the power of clairvoyance, and 
Prince Marko's ' sister-in-God ' prophesied his 
death and that of Sharatz. Veele had power 
to control tempests and other phenomena of 
nature ; they could change themselves into 
snakes or swans. When they were offended 
they could be very cruel ; they could kill or 
take away the senses of any who threatened 
them with violence ; they would lead men 
into deep waters or raze in a night magnificent 
buildings and fortresses. They believed in 
God and St John, and abhorred the Turk. 

To veele was attributed also the power of 
deciding the destiny of newly born children. 
On the seventh night after the birth of a 
child the Serbian peasant woman watches 
carefully for the Oossood, or Sudyaya, a veela 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 221 

who will pronounce the destiny of her infant, 
and it is the mother only who can hear the 
voice of the fairy. 

Predestination and Immortality 

The Serbians believe firmly in predestina- 
tion, and they say that " there is no death 
without the appointed day " (Nema smrti bez 
soodyena dana). They believe universally in 
the immortality of the soul, of which even 
otherwise inanimate objects, such as forests, 
lakes, mountains, sometimes partake. After 
the death of a man, the soul delays its depar- 
ture to the higher or lower spheres until the 
expiration of a certain period (usually forty 
days), during which time it floats in the air, 
and can perhaps enter into the body of some 
animal or insect. 

Good and Evil Spirits 

Spirits are usually good ; in Montenegro the 
people believe that each house has its 
Guardian-Spirit, whom they call syen or 
syenovik. Such syens can enter the body 
of a man, a dog, a snake, or even a hen. In 
like manner every forest, lake, and mountain 
has its syen, which is called by the Turkish 



222 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
word djin. For instance, there is a djin on 
the mountain Riyetchki Kom, near the 
northern side of the lake of Scutari, who does 
not allow the passers-by to touch a branch or 
a leaf in the perpetually green woods on the 
mountain side ; if any traveller should gather 
as much as a flower or a leaf, he is instantly 
pursued by a dense fog and perceives miracu- 
lous and terrifying visions in the air. The 
Albanians dread similar spirits of the woods 
in the region round Lurya, where they do not 
dare to touch even the dry branches of fallen 
firs and larches. This recalls the worship of 
sacred bushes common among the ancient 
Lithuanians. 

Besides the good spirits there appear evil 
spirits (byess), demons, and devils (dyavci), 
whom the Christians considered as pagan 
gods, and other evil spirits (zli doossi) too, 
who exist in the bodies of dead or of living 
men. These last are called vukodlaks or 
vlkodlaks (from vuk, meaning ' wolf,' and 
dlaka, meaning ' hair '), and according to the 
popular belief, they cause solar and lunar 
eclipses. This recalls the old Norse belief 
that the sun and moon were continually 
pursued by hungry wolves, a similar attempt 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 223 

to explain the same natural phenomena. 
Even to-day Serbian peasants believe that 
eclipses of the sun and moon are caused by 
their becoming the prey of a hungry dragon, 
who tries to swallow them. In some parts 
of Serbia it is generally believed that such 
dragons are female beings. These mischievous 
and very powerful creatures are credited with 
the destruction of cornfields and vineyards, 
for they are responsible for the havoc wrought 
by the hail-carrying clouds. When the 
peasants observe a partial eclipse of the 
moon or the sun, believing that a hailstorm is 
imminent, they gather in the village streets, 
and all — men, women, and children — beat pots 
and pans together, fire pistols, and ring bells in 
order to frighten away the threatening monster. 
In Montenegro, Herzegovina, and Bocca di 
Cattaro the people believe that the soul of a 
sleeping man is wafted by the winds to the 
summit of a mountain, and, when a number 
of such have assembled, they become fierce 
giants who uproot trees to use as clubs and 
hurl rocks and stones at one another. Their 
hissing and groans are heard especially during 
the nights in spring and autumn. Those 
struggling crowds are not composed merely 



224 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

of human souls, but include the spirits of 
many animals, such as oxen, dogs, and even 
cocks, but oxen especially join in the struggles. 

Witches 

Female evil spirits were generally called 
veshtitse (singular, veshtitsa, derived obviously 
from the ancient Bohemian word ved, which 
means ' to know '), and were supposed to be 
old women possessed by an evil spirit, irre- 
concilably hostile to men, to other women, and 
most of all to children. They corresponded 
more or less to the English conception of 
' witches.' When an old woman went to 
sleep, her soul left her body and wandered 
about till it entered the body of a hen or, 
more frequently, that of a black moth. 
Flying about, it entered those houses where 
there were a number of children, for its 
favourite food was the heart of an infant. 
From time to time veshtitse met to take 
their supper together in the branches of 
some tree. An old woman having the attri- 
butes of a witch might join such meetings 
after having complied with the rules pre- 
scribed by the experienced veshtitse, and 
this was usually done by pronouncing certain 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 225 

stereotyped phrases. The peasants en- 
deavoured to discover such creatures, and, 
if they succeeded in finding out a witch, a 
jury was hastily formed and was given full 
power to sentence her to death. One of the 
most certain methods used to discover whether 
the object of suspicion was really a witch or 
not, was to throw the victim into the water, 
for if she floated she was surely a witch. In 
this case she was usually burnt to death. 
This test was not unknown in England. 

Vampires 

The belief in the existence of vampires is 
universal throughout the Balkans, and in- 
deed it is not uncommon in certain parts of 
Western Europe. Some assert that this super- 
stition must be connected with the belief 
generally held in the Orthodox Church that 
the bodies of those who have died while under 
excommunication by the Church are incor- 
ruptible, and such bodies, being taken pos- 
session of by evil spirits, appear before men in 
lonely places and murder them. In Monte- 
negro vampires are called lampirs or tenats, 
and it is thought that they suck the blood of 
sleeping men, and also of cattle and other 

p 



226 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

animals, returning to their graves after their 
nocturnal excursions under the form of mice. 
In order to discover the grave where the 
vampire is lurking, the Montenegrins take 
out a black horse, without blemish, and lead 
it to the cemetery. The suspected corpse is 
dug up, pierced with stakes and burnt. The 
authorities, of course, are opposed to such 
superstitious practices, but some communities 
have threatened to abandon their dwellings, 
and thus leave whole villages deserted, unless 
allowed to ensure their safety in their own 
way. The Code of the Emperor Dushan the 
Powerful provides that a village in which 
bodies of dead persons have been exhumed 
and burnt shall be punished as severely as if 
a murder had been committed ; and that a 
resnik, that is, the priest who officiates at a 
ceremony of that kind, shall be anathematized. 
Militchevitch, a famous Serbian ethnographist, 
relates an incident where a resnik, as late as 
the beginning of the nineteenth century, read 
prayers out of the apocrypha of Peroon when 
an exorcism was required. The revolting 
custom has been completely suppressed in 
Serbia. In Montenegro Archbishop Peter II 
endeavoured to uproot it, but without entire 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 227 

success. In Bosnia, Istria, and Bulgaria it 
is also sometimes heard of. The belief in 
vampires is a superstition widely spread 
throughout Rumania, Albania, and Greece. 

Nature Worship 

Even in our own day there are traces of 
sun and moon worship, and many Serbian 
and Bulgarian poems celebrate the marriage 
of the sun and the moon, and sing of Danitza 
(the morning star) and Sedmoro Brayte (' The 
Seven Brothers '—evidently The Pleiades). 
Every man has his own star, which appears 
in the firmament at the moment of his birth 
and is extinguished when he dies. Fire and 
lightning are also worshipped. It is a common 
belief that the earth rests on water, that the 
water reposes on a fire and that that fire 
again is upon another fire, which is called 
Zmayevska Vatra (' Fire of the Dragons '). 

Similarly the worship of animals has been 
preserved to our times. The Serbians con- 
sider the bear to be no less than a man who 
has been punished and turned into an 
animal. This they believe because the bear 
can walk upright as a man does. The Monte- 
negrins consider the jackal (Canis aureus) 



228 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

a semi-human being, because its howls at night 
sound like the wails of a child. The roedeer 
(Caprcolus caprea) is supposed to be guarded 
by veele, that is why it so often escapes the 
hunter. In some parts of Serbia and through- 
out Montenegro it is a sin to kill a fox, or a 
bee. 

The worship of certain snakes is common 
throughout the Balkans. In Montenegro the 
people believe that a black snake lives in a 
hole under every house, and if anybody 
should kill it, the head of the house is sure 
to die. Certain water-snakes with fiery heads 
were also considered of the same importance 
as the evil dragons (or hydra) who, at one 
time, threatened ships sailing on the Lake of 
Scutari. One of these hydras is still supposed 
to live in the Lake of Rikavats, in the deserted 
mountains of Eastern Montenegro, from the 
bottom of which the hidden monster rises 
from time to time, and returns to the light of 
day heralded by great peals of thunder and 
flashes of lightning. 

But the Southern Slavs do not represent the 
dragon as the Hellenes did, that is to say as a 
monster in the form of a huge lizard or 
serpent, with crested head, wings and great 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 229 
strong claws, for they know this outward 
form is merely used as a misleading mask. 
In his true character a dragon is a handsome 
youth, possessing superhuman strength and 
courage, and he is usually represented as in 
love with some beautiful princess or empress. 

Enchanters 

Among celebrants of the various pagan 
rites, there is mention of tcharobnitsi (en- 
chanters), who are known to have lived also 
in Russia, where, during the eleventh century, 
they sapped the new Christianity. The Sla- 
vonic translation of the Gospel recognized by 
the Church in the ninth century applies the 
name ' tcharobnitsi ' to the three Holy Kings. 

To this same category belong the resnitsi 
who, as is apparent in the Emperor Dushan's 
Code referred to previously, used to burn the 
bodies of the dead. Resnik, which appears 
as a proper name in Serbia, Bosnia, and 
Croatia, means, according to all evidence, ' the 
one who is searching for truth.' 

Sacrificial Rites 

From translations of the Greek legends 
of the saints, the exact terminology of the 



230 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
sacrificial ceremonies and the places where 
they were performed is well known. Procopius 
mentions oxen as the animals generally offered 
for sacrifice, but we find that calves, goats, 
and sheep, in addition to oxen, were used 
by the Polapic Slavs and Lithuanians, and 
that, according to Byzantine authorities, the 
Russians used even birds as well. In Monte- 
negro, on the occasion of raising a new build- 
ing, a ram or a cock is usually slaughtered in 
order that a corner-stone may be besprinkled 
with its blood; and, at the ceremony of in- 
augurating a new fountain, a goat is killed. 
Tradition tells how Prince Ivan Tzrnoyevitch 
once shot in front of a cavern an uncommonly 
big wild goat that, being quite wet, shook 
water from its coat so that instantly a river 
began to flow thence. This stream is called 
to this day the River of Tzrnoyevitch. The 
story reminds one of the goats' horns and 
bodies of goats which are seen on the altar 
dedicated to the Illyrian god, Bind, near a 
fountain in the province of Yapod. 

It is a fact that Russians and Polapic Slavs 
used to offer human sacrifices. Mention of 
such sacrifices among the Southern Slavs is 
found only in the cycle of myths relating to 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 231 

certain buildings, which, it was superstitiously 
believed, could be completed only if a living 
human being were immured in them. Such 
legends exist among the Serbians and Monte- 
negrins concerning the building of the fortress 
Skadar (Scutari) and the bridge near Vishe- 
grad ; with the Bulgarians in reference to 
building the fort Lidga-Hyssar, near Plovdiv, 
and the Kadi-Kdpri (Turkish for ' the bridge 
of the judge') on the River Struma; and 
again among modern Greeks in their history 
of the bridge on the River Arta, and in the 
Rumanian tradition of the church ' Curtea de 
Ardyesh/ It seems likely that certain enig- 
matic bas-reliefs, representing human faces 
with just the eyes, nose and mouth, which are 
found concealed under the cemented surface 
of the walls of old buildings, have some con- 
nexion with the sacrificial practice referred 
to. There are three such heads in the 
fortress of Prince Dyouragy Brankovitch at 
Smederevo (Semendria), not far from Belgrade, 
on the inner side of the middle donjon fronting 
the Danube, and two others in the monastery 
Rila on the exterior wall close to the Dou- 
pitchka Kapiya. 



232 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Funeral Customs 

During the siege of Constantinople in the 
year 626, the Southern Slavs burnt the bodies 
of their dead. The Russians did the same 
during the battles near Silistria, 971, and 
subsequently commemorative services were 
held in all parts of Russia, and the ashes of 
the dead were buried. 

The Slavs of north Russia used to keep the 
ashes of the dead in a small vessel, which they 
would place on a pillar by the side of a public 
road ; that custom persisted with the Vya- 
titchs of southern Russia as late as 1100. 

These funeral customs have been retained 
longest by the Lithuanians ; the last recorded 
instance of a pagan burial was when Keystut, 
brother of the Grand Duke Olgerd, was 
interred in the year 1382, that is to say, he 
was burnt together with his horses and arms, 
falcons and hounds. 

There are in existence upright stones, 
mostly heavy slabs, many of them broken, 
or square blocks and even columns, which 
were called in the Middle Ages kami, or 
bileg, and now stetyak or mramor. Such stones 
are to be found in large numbers close 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 233 
together ; for example, there are over 6000 in 
the province of Vlassenitza, and some 22,000 
in the whole of Herzegovina ; some can be 
seen also in Dalmatia, for instance, in Kanovli, 
and in Montenego, at Nikshitch ; in Serbia, 
however, they are found only in Podrigne. 
These stones are usually decorated with figures, 
which appear to be primitive imitations of 
the work of Roman sculptors : arcades on 
columns, plant designs, trees, swords and 
shields, figures of warriors carrying their 
bows, horsemen, deer, bears, wild boars, and 
falcons ; there are also oblong representations 
of male and female figures dancing together 
and playing games. 

The symbol of the Cross indicates the 
advent of Christianity. Inscriptions appear 
only after the eleventh century. But many 
tombstones plainly had their origin in the 
early Middle Ages. Some tombs, situated 
far from villages, are described by a man's 
personal name in the chronicles relating to 
the demarcations of territories — for example, 
Bolestino Groblye (the burial-ground of 
Bolestino) near Ipek ; Druzetin Grob (the 
tomb of Druzet). In Konavla, near Ragusa, 
there was in the year 1420 a certain point 



234 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

where important cross-roads met, known as 
' Obugonov Grob.' Even in our day there is 
at that spot a tombstone without inscription, 
called ' Obugagn Grob.' It is the grave of 
the Governor Obuganitch, a descendant of 
the family of Lyubibratitch, famous in the 
fourteenth century. 

Classic and Mcdiceval Influence 

When paganism had disappeared, the 
Southern-Slavonic legends received many ele- 
ments from the Greeks and Romans. There 
are references to the Emperors Trajan and 
Diocletian as well as to mythical personages. 
In the Balkans, Trajan is often confused with 
the Greek king Midas. In the year 1433 the 
Chevalier Bertrandon de la Broquiere heard 
from the Greeks at Trajanople that this city 
had been built by the Emperor Trajan, who 
had goat's ears. The historian Tzetzes also 
mentions that emperor's goat's ears (u>r\a 
rpayov). In Serbian legends the Emperor 
Trajan seems also to be confused with 
Daedalus, for he is given war-wings in addition 
to the ears. 

To the cycle of mediaeval myths we owe also 
the djins (giants) who dwelt in caverns, and 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 235 

who are known by the Turkish name div — 
originally Persian. Notable of the divs were 
those having only one eye — who may be 
called a variety of cyclops — mentioned also in 
Bulgarian, Croatian, and Slovenian mytho- 
logy. On the shores of the River Moratcha, 
in Montenegro, there is a meadow called 
' Psoglavlya Livada ' with a cavern in which 
such creatures are said to have lived at our 
time. 

The Spread of Christianity 

When the pagan Slavs occupied the Roman 
provinces, the Christian region was limited 
to parts of the Byzantine provinces. In 
Dalmatia after the fall of Salona, the arch- 
bishopric of Salona was transferred to Spalato 
(Splyet), but in the papal bulls of the ninth 
century it continued always to be styled 
Salonitana ecclesia, and it claimed jurisdic- 
tion over the entire lands as far as the 
Danube. 

According to Constantine Porphyrogenete, 
the Serbians adopted the Christian faith at two 
different periods, first during the reign of the 
Emperor Heraclius, who had requested the 
Pope to send a number of priests to convert 



236 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
those peoples to the Christian faith. It is 
well known, however, that the Slavs in 
Dalmatia even during the reign of Pope John 
IV (640-642) remained pagans. No doubt 
Christianity spread gradually from the Roman 
cities of Dalmatia to the various Slav pro- 
vinces. The Croatians already belonged to 
the Roman Church at the time when its 
priests were converting the Serbians to 
Christianity between the years 642 and 731, 
i.e. after the death of Pope John IV and 
before Leon of Isauria had broken off his 
relations with Rome. 

The second conversion of those of the 
Southern Slavs who had remained pagans 
was effected, about 879, by the Emperor 
Basil I. 

At first the Christian faith spread amongst 
the Southern Slavs only superficially, because 
the people could not understand Latin prayers 
and ecclesiastical books. It took root much 
more firmly and rapidly when the ancient 
Slavonic language was used in the church 
services. 

Owing to the differences arising over icons 
and the form their worship should take, 
enthusiasm for the conversion of the pagans 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 237 

by the Latin Church considerably lessened. 
In the Byzantine provinces, however, there 
was no need for any special effort to evangelize 
the people, for the Slavs came in constant 
contact with the Greek Christians, whose 
beliefs they adopted spontaneously. 

From the Slavonic appellations of places 
appearing in certain official lists, one can see 
that new episcopates were established ex- 
clusively for the Slavs by the Greek Church. 
The bishops conducted their services in 
Greek, but the priests and monks, who were 
born Slavs, preached and instructed the 
people in their own languages. Thus they 
prepared the ground for the great Slav 
apostles. 

The Slav apostles of Salonika, Cyrillus and 
his elder brother Methodius, were very learned 
men and philosophers. The principal of the 
two, Cyrillus, was a priest and the librarian 
of the Patriarchate ; in addition he was a 
professor of philosophy in the University of 
the Imperial Palace at Constantinople, and 
he was much esteemed on account of his 
ecclesiastical erudition. Their great work 
began in 862 with the mission to the Emperor 
Michel III, with which the Moravian 



238 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Princes Rastislav and Svetopluk entrusted 
them. 

The Moravians were already converted to 
Christianity, but they wished to have teachers 
among them acquainted with the Slav lan- 
guage. Before the brothers started on their 
journey, Cyrillus composed the Slav alphabet 
and translated the Gospel. 

Thus the Serbians obtained these Holy 
Books written in a language familiar to them, 
and the doctrines of the great Master gradu- 
ally, but steadily, ousted the old, primitive 
religion which had taken the form of pure 
Naturalism. But the worship of nature 
could not completely disappear, and has not, 
even to our day, vanished from the popular 
creed of the Balkans. The folk-lore of those 
nations embodies an abundance of religious 
and superstitious sentiment and rites handed 
down from pre-Christian times, for after 
many years' struggle paganism was only 
partially abolished by the ritual of the Latin 
and afterwards of the Greek Christian Church, 
to which all Serbians, including the natives of 
Montenegro, Macedonia, and parts of Bosnia, 
belong. 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 239 

Superstition 

The foundations of the Christian faith were 
never properly laid in the Balkans, owing to 
the lack of cultured priests, and this reason, 
and the fact that the people love to cling to 
their old traditions, probably accounts for 
religion never having taken a very deep hold 
on them. Even to this day superstition is 
often stronger than religion, or sometimes 
replaces it altogether. The whole daily life 
of the Southern Slav is interwoven with all 
kinds of superstition. He is superstitious 
about the manner in which he rises in the 
morning and as to what he sees first ; for 
instance, if he sees a monk, he is sure to have 
an unfortunate day ; when he builds a house, 
a ' lucky spot ' must be found for its founda- 
tion. At night he is superstitious about the 
way he lies down ; he listens to hear if the 
cocks crow in time, and if the dogs bark 
much, and how they are barking. He pays 
great attention to the moment when thunder 
is first heard, what kind of rain falls, how the 
stars shine — whether or not they shine at all, 
and looks anxiously to see if the moon has a 
halo, and if the sun shines through a cloud. 



240 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
All these things are portents and omens to 
his mind, and they play a considerable part 
in all his actions. When he intends to join 
a hunting expedition, for example, he decides 
from them whether there will be game or not ; 
he believes that he is sure to shoot something 
if his wife, or sister (or any other good-natured 
person) jumps over his gun before he calls up 
his dogs. Especially there are numberless 
superstitions connected with husbandry, for 
some of which fairly plausible explanations 
could be given ; for others, however, ex- 
planations are hopelessly unavailing, and 
their origin is totally forgotten. Neverthe- 
less, all superstitions are zealously observed 
because, the people say, "it is well to do 
so," or " our ancestors always did so and 
were happy, why should we not do the 
same ? " 

The planting of fruit-trees and the growing 
of fruit must be aided by charms, and nume- 
rous feasts are organized to secure a fruitful 
year, or to prevent floods, hail, drought, frost, 
and other disasters. But undoubtedly the 
greatest number of superstitions exist re- 
garding the daily customs, and especially 
regarding birth, marriage, and death. Charms 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 241 
are used to discover a future bridegroom or 
bride ; to make a young man fall in love with 
a maid or vice versa ; also, if it seems desir- 
able, to make them hate each other. Sorcery 
is resorted to to ensure the fulfilment of the 
bride's wishes with regard to children j their 
number and sex are decided upon, their health 
is ensured in advance, favourable conditions 
are arranged for their appearance. Death 
can come, it is believed, only when the Arch- 
angel Michael removes a soul from its body, 
and that can only happen on the appointed 
day. 

As the Serbians are the most representative 
of the Balkan Slavs, we shall consider a few 
of their customs in order to show how inti- 
mately superstition blends with the true 
spirit of Christianity in some of their religious 
observances. 

Marriage 

When a child is born in a Serbian family, 
the friends congratulate the parents and wish 
for them : " that they may live to see the 
green wreaths," which means living to see 
their child married. Marriages are most 
frequent in autumn, especially toward Christ- 

Q 



242 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

mas, and more rare in summer. When parents 
intend to find a bridegroom for their daughter 
or a bride for their son, they generally con- 
sider the question thoroughly for a whole year 
beforehand. They take their daughter or 
son to various social gatherings, where they 
may meet one suited to become their husband 
or wife. When a daughter is informed of her 
parents' decision she must hasten her pre- 
parations : she must see that the bochtchaluks l 
(wedding presents), which she has to distribute 
among the wedding guests (svati or svatovi) be 
finished soon. These presents are articles 
mostly made by her own hands, such as socks, 
stockings, shirts, towels, and rugs. Usually 
the house is put into good order and perhaps 
enlarged, and when all the preparations are 
ready the rumour of her approaching marriage 
is allowed to spread through the village. As 
marriages are usually settled by the parents, 
love-matches, unfortunately, are rare, and 
elopements are regarded as extraordinary 
occurrences. There are, however, occasionally 
cases when young people are not docile to the 
will of their parents. If a girl has fallen in 
love with a young man, she may have recourse, 
1 A Serbian word of Turkish origin. 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 243 

besides usual ways and methods, to pro- 
fessional enchantresses. Among the devices 
recommended by these friends of lovers are 
the following : The maiden looks through the 
muzzle of a roast sucking-pig (which has been 
killed for the Christmas festivities) at her 
beloved, whereupon he is sure to fall madly 
in love with her ; her lover is bound to die of 
love for her if she looks at him through a 
hole made in a cherry or certain other fruit ; 
she is equally sure to gain his affection if she 
can succeed in finding the trace of his right 
footprint and turns the earth under it. 
These and many other kinds of sorcery are 
usually practised on or about St George's 
Day (23rd of April O.S.). 

Young men, too, have recourse on occasion 
to witchcraft when they desire the love of 
some obdurate maiden. For instance, if at 
midnight on a certain Friday the young man 
goes to the courtyard of the dwelling of the 
lady of his heart and there shakes a tree three 
times, uttering as many times her Christian 
name, she is absolutely certain to answer his 
call and to reciprocate his love. Another 
equally infallible method is for him to catch a 
certain fish and to let it die near his heart ; 



244 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

then to roast its flesh until it is burnt to a 
cinder, then to pound this, and to place the 
powder secretly in water or some other 
beverage. If the girl can be induced to taste 
of it, she is as a matter of course constrained 
to love him. These expedients recall the 
famous exploit of the French troubadour 
Pierre Vidal, undertaken to win the love of his 
beautiful patroness Donna Azalais de Baux. 
A magical recipe for success in love, taken 
from an Arabic monument, was given to the 
poet by Hugues de Baux, a mischievous young 
knight and brother-in-law of the fair Donna 
Azalais ; the credulous Vidal was induced to 
ride on a pig one moonlight night three times 
round the castle of his lady-love, all uncon- 
scious that his waggish friend had brought 
all the inmates to a terrace to witness his 
ridiculous exhibition. 

Marriage Negotiations 

When parents have chosen their son's bride 
they send to her parents a fully qualified 
delegate (iiavodagjya) to inquire whether or 
not they would consent to give their daughter 
to the young man. As marriages are rarely 
concluded without the aid of these delegates 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 245 

there are numerous persons who make it their 
regular profession to negotiate marriages, 
and they receive a sum of money when their 
offices are successful. In addition to this fee 
the navodagjya receives from the future bride 
at least one pair of socks. If the father of the 
girl does not favour the proposal, he generally 
avoids giving a decisive reply, but finds some 
pretext, stating, for example, that his daughter 
is still too young, or that she is not quite 
ready with her preparations for marriage ; but 
if the young man appears to be eligible and the 
father is willing to give his consent, he gene- 
rally answers that he would like to see his 
daughter married to such an excellent man, 
provided the couple be fond of each other. 
Then a meeting is arranged, although in 
fact this is merely a matter of form, since 
the final decision must come from the parents, 
irrespective of the mutual feelings of the 
prospective husband and wife. The parents 
ask the young people whether they like one 
another ; usually an affirmative answer is 
given, whereupon all present embrace each 
other, and presents are exchanged, both 
between the parents and between the future 
husband and bride. This event is often 



246 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
celebrated by the firing of pistols and guns, 
in order to make it known all over the 
village that marriage festivities are soon to 
follow. 

Soon after the ceremony, which may be 
called a preliminary betrothal, the parents of 
the bridegroom, together with the young man 
and a few intimate friends, pay an official 
visit to the house of the bride. The visit 
usually takes place in the evening, and, after 
the bridegroom has given the bride a ring, 
festivities begin and last until the next morn- 
ing. A few days later the bride and the 
bridegroom go to church, accompanied by a 
few friends, and the priest asks them some 
stereotyped questions, such as : "Do you 
wish to marry of your own free will ? " to 
which they are, so to speak, compelled to 
answer " Yes." 

The Wedding Procession 

A week before the wedding-day both 
families prepare their houses for numerous 
guests, whom they will entertain most hos- 
pitably for several days. Until very recent 
times, if the bride lived in some distant 
village the wedding procession had to travel 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 247 
for several days to fetch her, and, in the 
absence of good roads for carriages, the 
entire party had to ride on horseback. The 
wedding party includes the dever 1 (that is, 
leader of the bride), who remains in constant 
attendance upon the bride throughout the 
ceremonies, being, in a sense, her guardian ; 
the koorn (principal witness, who in due course 
becomes a sort of sponsor or godfather to the 
children) ; and the stari-svat, who is the second 
witness of the wedding ceremony. Through- 
out the wedding ceremonies the koom has to 
stand behind the bridegroom and the stari- 
svat behind the bride. The stari-svat is also 
a kind of master of the ceremonies on the 
wedding-day ; he keeps order among the 
guests and presides at the nuptial banquets. 
With the dever come also his parents, and 
the koom and stari-svat must bring one 
servant each, to attend them during the 
ceremony. These two witnesses must provide 
themselves with two large wax candles, 
generally adorned with transparent silk lace 

1 This personage is usually a brother or very intimate 
friend of the bridegroom. He corresponds somewhat 
to the ' best man ' at an English wedding, but his 
functions are more important, as will be seen. 



248 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

and flowers, which they must present to the 
bride in addition to many other gifts. 

Before the procession sets out, the young 
people fire pistols, sing, and dance, whilst 
the elders sit and take refreshment. The 
appearance of the bridegroom in his wedding 
garments, and wearing flowers in his hat, is 
the signal for the traditional nuptial songs 
from a chorus of girls. When the carriages 
are ready to start they sing the following : 

A falcon flew from the castle 
Bearing a letter under its wing, 
Drops the letter on the father's knee : 
See ! Father ! The letter tells thee 
That thy son will travel far, 
Beyond many running rivers, 
Through many verdant forests, 
Till he brings thee a daughter [-in-law]. 

The Tzigany (Gipsy) band begins its joyful 
melodies ; the bridegroom, the standard- 
bearer, and other young people mount their 
horses, all gaily bedecked with flowers, and 
the procession starts for the bride's house, its 
members riding, generally, two and two, 
firing pistols and singing. The procession is 
always led by a frolicsome youth who carries 
a tchoutoura (a flat, wooden vessel) containing 
red wine. It is his duty to offer this to every 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 249 
person the wedding party may meet on the 
road, and he is privileged to make, during 
the wedding festival, jokes and witticisms at 
the expense of everybody. He enjoys the 
licence of a court jester for that day, and 
nobody must resent his witticisms, though 
they be, at times, indelicate and coarse. 

A few steps behind the tchoutoura-bearer 
ride the voyvode (general, or leader), whose 
office it is to support the former in his sallies, 
and the standard-bearer, who carries the 
national flag ; after them, in a carriage pro- 
fusely decorated with flowers, ride the brides- 
maids, who are selected from among the 
relatives of the bridegroom. With other 
presents the maidens carry the wedding 
dress and flowers which the bridegroom's 
father has bought for his future daughter-in- 
law. Immediately following the bridesmaids 
rides the bridegroom between the koom and 
the stari-svat. Then come other relatives 
and guests, two and two in procession. At 
times these wedding processions offer a very 
impressive sight. 



250 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

The Arrival 

When the wedding procession approaches 
the house of the bride, its arrival is announced 
by the firing of pistols and guns, whereupon 
a number of girls appear and sing various songs 
expressive of sorrow at the bride's departure 
from her old home. In some parts of Serbia 
still survives a strange old custom ; the bride's 
father requires that certain conditions be 
fulfilled before the gates of the courtyard 
are opened for the procession. For example, 
he sends a good wrestler to challenge any or 
every man of the bridegroom's party, and one 
of the wedding guests must overpower the 
challenger before the gates are opened. Of 
course, the wrestling bout is not serious, as 
a rule. Another condition, obtaining in other 
parts, is that the new-comers are not to be 
admitted before one of them, by firing his 
pistol, has destroyed a pot or other terra-cotta 
vessel fastened at the top of the chimney. 

When such, or other, conditions have been 
successfully negotiated, the wedding party 
is admitted to the house and led to tables 
loaded with roast lamb or pork, cakes, fruit, 
wine, and brandy. The bride's father places 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 251 

the father of the bridegroom in the seat of 
honour, and immediately next to him the 
stari-svat, then the koom and then the bride- 
groom. When the guests are seated, a large 
flat cake (pogatcha) is placed before the 
bridegroom's father, and he lays upon it some 
gold coins ; it may be a whole chain made of 
golden ducats, which the bride is to wear later 
round her neck. His example is followed 
immediately by the stari-svat, the koom, and 
all the other guests. Finally the bride's 
father brings the dowry which he has deter- 
mined to give to his daughter and lays it on 
the cake. All the money thus collected is 
handed over to the stari-svat, who will give 
it in due course to the bride. Next the 
bridesmaids take the wedding dress to the 
bride's apartment, where they adorn her 
with great care and ceremony. Her toilet 
finished, one of her brothers, or, in the absence 
of a brother, one of her nearest male relatives, 
takes her by the hand and leads her to the 
assembled family and friends. The moment 
she appears, the wedding guests greet her 
with a lively fire from their pistols, and the 
bridesmaids conduct her to the bridegroom, 
to whom she presents a wreath of flowers. 



252 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

She is then led to the stari-svat and the koom, 
whose hands she kisses. This ordeal con- 
cluded, she goes into the house, where, in 
front of the hearth, sit her parents on low 
wooden chairs. There she prostrates herself, 
kissing the floor in front of the fire. This is 
obviously a relic of fire-worship ; now, how- 
ever, symbolical of the veneration of the 
centre of family life. When she rises, the 
maiden kisses the hands of her father and 
mother, who, embracing her, give her their 
blessing. Now her brother, or relative — as 
the case may be — escorts her back to the 
bridegroom's party and there delivers her 
formally to the dever, who from that moment 
takes charge of her, in the first place pre- 
senting to her the gifts he has brought. 

The Return from Church 

After they have feasted the guests mount 
their horses and, firing tirelessly their pistols, 
set out with the bride for the nearest church. 
When the religious ceremony is over the 
wedding party returns to the bridegroom's 
home, and the bride has to alight from her 
horse (or carriage) upon a sack of oats. 
While the others enter the courtyard through 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 253 

the principal gate, the bride usually selects 
some other entrance, for she fears lest she 
may be bewitched. Immediately she enters, 
the members of the bridegroom's family 
bring to her a vessel filled with various kinds 
of corn, which she pours out on the ground 
1 in order that the year may be fruitful.' 
Next they bring her a male child whom she 
kisses and raises aloft three times. She then 
passes into the house holding under her arms 
loaves of bread, and in her hands bottles of red 
wine — emblems of wealth and prosperity. 

Although the wedding guests have been 
well feasted at the bride's house, the journey 
has renewed their appetites, therefore they 
seat themselves at tables in the same order 
as we have already seen, and are regaled with 
a grand banquet. Throughout the meal, as 
at the previous one, the voyvodes and the 
tchoutoura-bearer poke fun and satire at the 
expense of everybody. These mirthful effu- 
sions are, as we have already said, not always 
in very good taste, but no one takes offence, 
and everybody laughs heartily, provided there 
be wit in the jokes. After this feast, during 
which the young people perform the national 
dances (kollo) and sing the traditional wedding 



254 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

songs, the dever brings the bride to the 
threshold of her apartment (yayat) and delivers 
her to the koom, who, in his turn, places her 
hand in that of the bridegroom and leaves them 
alone. The guests, however, often remain in 
the house until dawn, drinking and singing. 

The Slava (or Krsno Ime) 

This custom is considered to be a survival 
of the times when the Serbians were first 
converted to Christianity. Every Serbian 
family has one day in the year, known as 
slava, generally some saint's day, when there 
are performed certain ceremonies partly of a 
religious and partly of a social character. The 
saint whom the head of the family celebrates 
as his patron, or tutelary saint, is also cele- 
brated by his children and their descendants. 

A few days before the celebration the 
priest comes to the house of every svetchar — 
the man who as the chief of the family cele- 
brates the saint — in order to bless the water 
which has been prepared beforehand for that 
purpose in a special vessel ; after this he 
besprinkles the heads of all the members of 
the family with the holy water, into which 
he has dipped a small sprig of basil. Then 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 255 
he passes from room to room performing the 
same ceremony in each. 

In order to please their tutelary saint, all 
the members of the family fast for at least 
a week before the feast. On the eve of the 
saint's day a taper is lit before the saint's 
image, and remains burning for two days. 
One or two days before the festival the 
women prepare a kolatch (a special cake 
made of wheat-flour) which measures about 
fifteen inches in diameter, and is about three 
inches thick. Its surface is marked with 
a cross, which divides it into quarters, each 
quarter bearing a shield with the letters 
I. N.R.I. In the centre there is a circle in 
which is a poskurnik (monogram of these 
initials). Besides the kolatch, another cake 
of white wheat well boiled and mixed with 
powdered sugar, chopped nuts, and almonds, 
is made. This is called kolyivo (literally 
' something which has been killed with the 
knife '). This is obviously a relic of the 
pagan times when kolyivo was the name 
given to animals sacrificed on the altar. 
When the Serbians were converted to the 
Christian faith, they were told that the 
Christian God and His saints did not call for 



256 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
animal, and still less for human sacrifice, and 
that boiled wheat might serve as a substitute. 
And it is interesting to find that kolyivo is 
prepared only for those saints whom the 
people believe to be dead, and not for those 
who are believed to be still living, such as 
St Elias (Elijah), the patron saint of Thunder, 
or the ' Thunderer,' the Archangel Michael 
and certain others, for it is distinctly a sym- 
bolic offering for the dead. 

The Slava Eve Reception 

On the eve of the slava day enough food is 
prepared to last for two following days, and 
toward sunset, all the tables are well loaded 
with refreshments in readiness for the arrival 
of numerous guests. Friends and relations 
are invited to come by a messenger especially 
sent out from the house. There are several 
stereotyped forms of this invitation, one of 
which is the following : " My father (or my 
uncle, as the case may be) has sent me to bring 
you his greetings and to invite you to our 
house this evening to drink a glass of brandy. 
We wish to share with you the blessings be- 
stowed upon us by God and our patron-saint. 
We entreat you to come ! " At these words 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 257 

the messenger hands to the invited guest a 
tchoutoura filled with red wine and decorated 
with flowers, from which the guest is obliged 
to take a sip. He makes the sign of the 
Cross, and says : " I thank you, and may your 
Slava be a happy and prosperous one ! " 
Then after tasting the wine, he continues : 
" We will do our best to come. It is simple to 
comply with your wish, since we are invited 
to share such an honour." He invariably 
pronounces these words whether he really 
intends to accept the invitation or not. 

In the meantime, while the messenger was 
away inviting guests, the women of the house- 
hold have been making all the preparations 
necessary for their reception. Each guest, 
as he reaches the threshold exclaims : " O 
master of the house, art thou willing to receive 
guests ? " Hearing this the Svetchar rushes 
to meet the guest and greets him in these 
words : " Certainly I am, and may there 
be many more good guests such as thou art ! ". 
Then the guest enters, embraces the Svetchar 
and says : "I wish thee a most pleasant 
evening and a happy Slava ! " And then 
as a matter of course the host answers : " I 
thank thee, and welcome thee to my house ! " 



258 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

In the same manner the other guests are 
greeted. When they have all arrived, the 
host invites them to wash their hands — for no 
Serbian peasant would ever sit down to take 
food without first doing so. Then the host 
shows to each one his place at the table, always 
strictly observing precedence due to seniority. 

The girls of the house first pass round 
brandy to the assembled guests ; this, at least 
in the winter, has generally been warmed, and 
honey or sugar has been added. While the 
brandy is being served all the guests stand, 
and in silence wait reverently for the cere- 
monies of the Slava to begin. 

The host places in the middle of the table 
a large wax candle, which he does not light 
until he has made the sign of the Cross three 
times. Next he takes an earthen vessel con- 
taining a few embers, places in it a few small 
pieces of incense and then lets the fragrance 
ascend to the icon, which is, according to 
custom, occupying the place of honour in the 
room, then still holding the censer he stops 
for a few moments before each guest. That 
ceremony being ended, and if there be no 
priest present, the host himself invites his 
guests to engage in prayer. A great many 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 259 

Serbian peasants are gifted with the power of 
offering extempore prayers and they are 
always in request at these ceremonies. The 
host passes the censer to his wife, whose duty 
it is to see that the fumes of the incense reach 
into every part of the house. Next the host 
breaks silence with the following prayer : 
" Let us pray, brethren, most reverently to 
the Almighty Lord, our God, and to the Holy 
Trinity ! O Lord, Thou omnipotent and 
gracious Creator of Heaven and Earth, deliver 
us, we pray Thee, from all unforeseen evil ! 
O St George ! [here he adds the name of the 
saint whose festival they are celebrating], our 
holy patron-saint, protect us and plead for us 
with the Lord, our God, we here gathered 
together do pray Thee. Ye Holy Apostles, 
ye, the four Evangelists and pillars upon 
whom rest the Heavens and the Earth, we, 
being sinners, do conjure you to intercede for 
lis," and so on. When his prayer is finished, 
the guests make the sign of the Cross several 
times and then supper begins. 

Slava Toasts 

During the first two or three courses, the 
guests continue to drink brandy, and wine 



260 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
is not served until they have partaken of 
meat. At the drinking of the first glass of 
wine the oldest guest or whoever enjoys 
the highest dignity of position (generally it 
is the village priest or the mayor) proposes 
the first toast, of which — as well as of all 
the subsequent ones — it may be said that 
tradition has ordered the exact programme 
to be followed in all these proceedings, and 
even prescribed the very words to be used. 
In some parts of Serbia the host himself 
proposes the first toast to the most distin- 
guished of his guests, addressing him with : 
" I beg to thank you, as well as all your 
brethren, for the honour which you graciously 
show me in coming to my Slava ! Let us 
drink the first glass to the glory of the 
gracious God ! Where wine is drunk in 
His name, may prosperity always be ! " The 
principal guest accepts the toast, makes the 
sign of the Cross and answers in such words 
as the following : "I thank you, most kind 
and hospitable host ! May your Slava bring 
you prosperity, let us drink this second 
glass ' for the better hour.' " The third 
toast is generally "To the glory of the Holy 
Trinity ! " 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 261 

In some parts of Serbia there are commonly 
seven or even more toasts to be drunk, but this 
custom shows, fortunately, a tendency to 
disappear. 

The Ceremony at Church 

Next morning all the members of the family 
rise very early in order to restore order in the 
house, and the Svetchar goes to the nearest 
church, taking with him the kolyivo, the 
kolatch, some wine, incense, and a wax 
candle. All these things he places in front 
of the altar, where they must remain during 
the morning service, after which the officiating 
priest cuts the Slava cake from underneath 
so that his cuts correspond with the lines of 
the cross shown on the upper surface. Then 
he breaks the cake and turns it in a circle with 
the help of the Svetchar, while they pronounce 
certain prayers together. This ceremony 
ended, the host takes one half of the cake 
home and leaves the other half to the priest. 
If it happens that the church is far away, and 
time does not allow the host to absent himself 
long from home, the Slava cake may be cut in 
halves by him in his own house with the 
help of his male guests, chanting all the while 



262 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
certain formal prayers : and standing in a 
circle they hold the cake so that a thumb of 
each guest should be placed on the top of the 
cake, whilst they each support it with four 
fingers. 

The Slav a Feast 

Toward noon, a few minutes before the 
sun reaches its zenith, a part of the Slava cake 
is placed upon the table together with a lighted 
wax candle. To this midday meal many 
more guests are usually invited than had 
attended the supper on the previous evening ; 
furthermore, on this day even a stranger — 
whatever his religion may be — has the right 
to enter the house and to claim hospitality. 
For instance, the Royal Prince Marko had 
many friends amongst the Turks, and they 
would invariably come to him as guests on 
his Slava day. All the guests rise together, 
cross themselves with great reverence, and, 
in perfect silence, with glasses filled, they 
await the address to be made by the Svetchar. 
Again three, or perhaps more, toasts are 
proposed and accepted, and, of course, as 
many times are the glasses again emptied and 
re-filled before the ' midday ' meal is even 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 263 

begun. Eating and drinking, in all cases, 
" to the glory of God, the Holy Trinity, the 
Holy Slava " and so forth, continue till late at 
night, when the guests remember that it is 
time to go home. Many, however, remain in 
the house all night and for the next day. 
Some devotees of good wine used actually to 
remain, on occasions, for three whole con- 
secutive days and nights. This very extreme 
devotion to the saints has been practised 
more especially at Nish, and in that neigh- 
bourhood, and has furnished the celebrated 
novelist Stefan Strematz with abundant 
material for one of the finest, as it is un- 
doubtedly one of the wittiest, novels that 
have been written in Serbian. 

Christmas Eve 

Another festival, which the Serbians, like 
other nations, conduct with many rites and 
customs of unmistakably pagan origin and 
which fills the hearts of all with joy, is 
Christmas. It is a saying of the Serbian 
people that " there is no day without light — 
neither is there any real joy without Christ- 
mas." 

The Serbian peasant is, as a general rule, 



264 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
an early riser, but on Christmas Eve (Badgni 
Dan) everybody is up earlier than usual, 
for it is a day when each member of the house- 
hold has his hands full of work to be done. 
Two or more of the young men are sent out 
from every house to the nearest forest * to 
cut, and bring home, a young oak tree, which 
is called Badgnak. (The etymology of this 
word is obscure, but it is probably the name, 
or derived from the name, of a pagan god.) 
When the young man who is to cut the tree 
has selected it, he kneels down, and murmuring 
words of greeting and uttering a special 
prayer, he throws at it a handful of wheat or 
corn ; then he makes the sign of the Cross 
three times and begins carefully to cut in such 
a direction that the tree must necessarily 
fall toward the East, and at just about the 
moment when the sun first appears above the 
horizon. He has also to see that the tree 
does not touch, in falling to earth, the 
branches of any tree near it, otherwise the 
prosperity of his house would most surely be 

1 Forests have been considered until recently as the 
common property of all. Even in our day every peasant 
is at liberty to cut a Badgnak-tree in any forest he 
chooses, though it may be the property of strangers. 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 265 

disturbed during the ensuing year. The trunk 
of the tree is now cut into three logs, one of 
which is rather longer than the others. 

Toward evening, when everything is ready 
and all the members of the family are as- 
sembled in the kitchen, the chief room in the 
dwelling, a large fire is lit, and the head of the 
family solemnly carries in the Badgnak, and, 
placing it on the fire, so that the thicker end 
is left about twelve inches beyond the hearth, 
he pronounces in a loud voice his good wishes 
for the prosperity of the house and all within 
it. In the same way he brings in the other 
parts of the Badgnak, and, when all are in a 
blaze, the young shepherds embrace across 
the largest log, for they believe that by doing 
so they will ensure the attachment of the 
sheep to their lambs, of the cows to their 
calves, and of all other animals to their young. 

At this point of the proceedings the oldest 
member of the family brings in a bundle of 
straw and hands it over to the housewife, 
to whom he wishes at the same time " a good 
evening and a happy Badgni Dan." She 
then throws a handful of corn at him, thanks 
him for the straw and starts walking about 
the kitchen and the adjoining rooms, scatter- 



266 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
ing straw on the floor and imitating the 
clucking of hens, while the children gleefully 
follow her and imitate the sounds made by 
young chicks. 

This finished, the mother has next to bring 
a yellow wax candle and an earthen vessel 
filled with burning coal. The father again 
reverently makes the sign of the Cross, lights 
the candle and places some incense on the 
embers. Meanwhile the rest of the family 
have already formed themselves into a semi- 
circle, with the men standing on the right and 
the women on the left. The father now pro- 
ceeds to say prayers aloud, walking from one 
end of the semicircle to the other and stopping 
in front of each person for a short space of 
time that the fumes of smoking incense, in 
the censer, held in his right hand, should 
rise to the face of every one in turn. The 
prayers which they utter on these occasions 
last for about fifteen or twenty minutes, and 
vary in nearly every district. 

After the prayers they all sit down to 
supper, which is laid, not upon a table, but on 
the floor, for it is considered a good orthodox 
custom to lay sacks over the stone or clay 
of which the floor is formed, and to use 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 267 
cushions instead of chairs on Christmas Eve. 
During supper, at which no meat is served, the 
father of the family enthusiastically toasts 
the Badgnak, expressing at the same time his 
wishes for their common prosperity for the 
New Year, and pours a glass of wine over the 
protruding end of the log. In many parts of 
Serbia all the peasants — men, women, and 
even small children — fast for the forty-five 
days immediately before Christmas. They 
abstain from meat, eggs, and milk-food, and 
eat simply vegetables and fruit. 

When the supper is over the whole family 
retires to bed, except one of the young men, 
who remains near the fire to see that the 
Badgnak does not burn off completely, and 
that the fire is not extinguished. 

Christmas Day 

It is generally believed that the rites and 
customs concerning this Church festival, which 
we Serbians call in our own language Boyitch, 
meaning ' the little God,' is nothing but the 
modified worship of the pagan god Dabog 
(or Daybog), to whom we have already 
referred, or perhaps represents several forms 
of that worship. Our pagan ancestors used 



268 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

to sacrifice a pig to their Sun-god, and in our 
day there is not a single house throughout 
Serbia in which ' roast pork ' is not served 
on Christmas Day as a matter of course. The 
men and boys of each household rise very 
early in the morning that day to make a big 
fire in the courtyard, and to roast a sucking- 
pig on a spit, for which all preparations are 
made on Badgni Dan. The moment each 
little pig is placed at the fire there is a vigorous 
firing of pistols or rifles to greet it, showing 
by the sound of shot after shot that the whole 
village is astir. As nearly all the houses in a 
village zealously practise the same custom, 
and as naturally every youth considers it a 
part of his duty to fire a pistol, the neighbour- 
ing hills echo again and again as if persistent 
skirmishing were going on. 

Still early in the morning one of the 
maidens goes to the public well to fetch some 
drinking water, and when she reaches the well 
she greets it, wishing it a happy Christmas, 
throwing at the same time into it a handful of 
corn and a bunch, or perhaps merely a sprig, 
of basil. She throws the corn in the hope 
that the crops may be as abundant as water, 
and the basil is to keep the water always 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 269 

limpid and pure. The first cupful of the 
water she draws is used to make a cake 
(thesnitsa) to be broken at the midday meal 
into as many pieces as there are members of 
the household. A silver coin has been put 
into the dough, and the person who finds it 
in his piece of cake is considered as the 
favourite of Fortune for the year to come. 

During the morning every house expects a 
visitor (polaznik), who is usually a young boy 
from a neighbouring house. When the polaz- 
nik enters the house he breaks off a small 
branch of the Badgnak's smouldering end, and 
while he is greeting the head of the house 
with ff Christ is born ! " and all the others are 
answering him with a cry of " In truth He is 
born ! " the mother throws at him a handful 
of wheat. He then approaches the hearth, 
and strikes the Badgnak with his own piece 
of tree repeatedly, so that thousands of 
sparks fly up into the chimney, and he 
pronounces his good wishes : " May the holy 
Christmas bring to this house as many sheep, 
as many horses, as many cows, as many 
beehives, [and so forth], as there are sparks 
in this fire ! " Then he places on the Badgnak 
either a silver or a gold coin, which the head 



270 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

of the family keeps to give to the blacksmith 
to smelt in with the steel when making his 
new plough — for, as he believes, this cannot 
fail to make the ground more fertile and all 
go well. The polaznik is, of course, made 
to stay and share the meal with them, and 
afterwards he is presented with a special 
cake also containing a coin, sometimes a gold 
one, sometimes silver. 

After the repast all the youths go out of 
doors for sports, especially for sleighing, while 
the older people gather together round a 
guslar (a national bard), and take much, even 
endless, delight in listening to his recitals of 
their ancient ballads. 

The Dodola Rite 

The disasters which Serbian peasants most 
fear are of two kinds — drought and very 
violent storms. In pagan times there was 
a goddess who, it is believed, ruled the waters 
and the rain. When the Serbians were first 
converted to Christianity, the power of con- 
trolling the ocean, rivers, and storms, and the 
sailing of ships at sea was attributed to St 
Nicholas, and the Dalmatians, sea-going men, 
still pray only to him ; whereas in the heart 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 271 

of Serbia, where the peasants have no con- 
ception of what large navigable rivers are, 
still less of what seas and lakes are like, suppli- 
cation is made to the favourite goddess Doda 
or Dodola whenever there is an unduly long 
spell of dry weather. 

The Dodola rite is a peculiar one. A 
maiden, generally a Gipsy, is divested of her 
usual garments and then thickly wrapped 
round with grass and flowers so that she is 
almost concealed beneath them. She wears 
a wide wreath of willow branches interwoven 
with wild flowers around her waist and hips, 
and in such fantastic attire she has to go from 
house to house in the village dancing, while 
each housewife pours over her a pailful of 
water, and her companions chant a prayer 
having the refrain, Oy Dodo, oy Dodole after 
every single line : 

Fall, O rain ! and gentlest dew ! 

Oy, Dodo ! Oy, Dodole ! 
Refresh our pasture-lands and fields ! 

Oy, Dodo ! Oy, Dodole ! 

In each verse that follows mention is made 
of a cereal or other plant, imploring Doda 
that rain may soon be shed upon it. Then 
the cottage women give them presents, either 



272 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

food or money, and the maidens sing other 
songs for them, always in the same rhythm, 
give their thanks, offer good wishes, and are 
gone. 

Whitsuntide 

During the Whitsuntide festivities, about 
fifteen young girls, mostly Christian Gipsies, 
one of whom personates the Standard-bearer, 
another the King, and another the Queen 
(kralyitza), veiled and attended by a number 
of Maids of Honour, proceed from door to 
door through the village, singing and dancing. 
Their songs relate to such subjects as marriage, 
the choice of a husband or wife, the happiness 
of wedded life, the blessing of having children. 
After each verse of their songs follows a 
refrain, Lado, oy, Lado-leh ! which is probably 
the name of the ancient Slavonic Deity of 
Love. 

Palm Sunday 

In winter, just before Lent, the great 
festival in honour of the Dead is celebrated, 
at which every one solemnizes the memory 
of departed relations and friends, and no 
sooner does Palm Sunday arrive than the 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 273 

people join in commemorating the renova- 
tion of life. 

On the preceding Saturday the maidens 
assemble on a hill, and recite poems on the 
resurrection of Lazarus ; and on Sunday, 
before sunrise, they meet at the place where 
they draw water and dance their country 
dance (kollo), chanting a song, which relates 
how the water becomes dull by the antlers 
of a stag, and bright by his eye. 

St George's Day 

On St George's Day, April 23rd (Dyourdyev 
Dan), long before dawn, all the members of a 
Serbian family rise and bathe in water in 
which a number of herbs and flowers — each 
possessing its own peculiar signification — have 
been cast before sunset the preceding day. He 
who fails to get up in good time, and whom 
the sun surprises in bed, is said to have fallen 
in disgrace with St George, and he will con- 
sequently have little or no luck in any of 
his undertakings for the next twelve months. 
This rite is taken as a sign that the Serbian 
peasants yield to the many influences of 
newly awakened nature. 

It will be seen by any one who studies the 



274 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
matter that each season in turn prompts the 
Serbians, as it must prompt any simple 
primitive people, to observe rites pointing to 
the mysterious relation in which man finds 
that he stands to nature. 

Serbian National Epic Poetry 

That the Serbian people — as a distinct 
Slav and Christian nationality — did not suc- 
cumb altogether to the Ottoman oppressor, 
that through nearly five centuries of sub- 
jection to the Turk the Southern Slavs re- 
tained a deep consciousness of their national 
ideals, is due in a very large measure to the 
Serbian national poetry, which kept alive in 
the hearts of the Jugoslavs deep hatred of 
the Turk, and gave birth, among the oppressed 
Slavs, to the sentiment of a common mis- 
fortune. The national ballads made possible 
that collective effort which culminated in the 
defeat of the Turk on the battlefields of 
Koumanovo, Monastir, Prilip, Prizrend, Kirk- 
Kilisse, Scutari, the Jadar, the Tzer, Mlade- 
novats and Belgrade. 

Who wrote those poems ? We might as 
well ask, who is the author of the Iliad and 
the Odyssey ? If Homer be the collective 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 275 

pseudonym of an entire cycle of Hellenic 
national bards, then ' The Serbian people ' is 
that of the national bards who chanted those 
Serbian epic poems during the centuries, and 
to whom it mattered little that their names 
should be attached to them. The task which 
was performed with such ability in ancient 
Greece by the learned Diascevastes of the 
time of Pisistratus, that task was accom- 
plished in Serbia by a self-taught peasant, 
the famous Vuk Stephanovitch Karadgitch, 
at the beginning of the nineteenth century. 1 

1 Vuk Karadgitch was born in 1787, and was illiterate 
until his eighteenth year, when on the outbreak of the 
insurrection he passed into Sirmia and attended an 
elementary school. At the age of twenty he became a 
student of the first Belgrade High School mentioned on 
p. 83 ; in 1813, intercourse with the philologist Jernei 
Kopitar inspired him with the ambition to give a literary 
form to the popular Serbian language. From 1814 until 
his death in 1864 he devoted himself to a work of reform 
which was one long and bitter struggle against ignorance 
and prejudice, and was only in the last years of his life 
crowned with full success. He composed grammars 
and dictionaries of the Serbian language, and wrote 
many critical essays and commentaries which established 
a solid basis for the reform of the language. Even more 
important was his spelling reform, which, based on a 
strict phonetic basis of thirty letters for the thirty sounds 
which exist in the language, made Serbian the most 
logically and easily written idiom in Europe, unequalled 



276 HISTORY OF SERBIA 

Vuk's first collection of Serbian national 
poems, which he wrote down as he heard them 
from the lips of the guslari (i.e. Serbian 
national bards), was published for the first 
time at Vienna in 1814, and was not only 
eagerly read throughout Serbia and in the 
literary circles of Austria and Germany, but 
also in other parts of Europe. 

Those poems dwell upon the glory of the 
Serbian mediaeval empire, lost on the fatal 
field of Kossovo. When the Turks conquered 
the Serbian lands and drove away the flower 
of the Serbian aristocracy, these men took 
refuge in the monasteries and villages, where 
the Turkish horsemen never came. There 
they remained through centuries undisturbed, 
inspired by the eloquence of the Serbian 
monks, who considered it their sacred duty to 
preserve for the nation behind their old walls 
the memory of ancient kings and tsars and 
of the glorious past in which they flourished. 

even by Italian in this respect. Vuk's literary work 
includes critical and historical writing, but will be 
remembered chiefly for his important collections of 
songs, stories, payings, proverbs, and popular charades, 
and of national poetry. The popularization of these 
collections has given a common literary language to the 
mass of the Serbian people. 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 277 

Professional bards went from one village 
to another, chanting in an easy decasyllabic 
verse the exploits of Serbian heroes and 
Haiduks (knight-brigands), who were the only 
check upon the Turkish atrocities. The bards 
carried news of political and other interesting 
events, often correct, sometimes more or less 
distorted, and the gifted Serbians — for gifted 
they were and still are — did not find it difficult 
to remember, and to repeat to others, the 
stories thus brought to them in poetic form. 
As the rhythm of the poems is easy, and as the 
national ballads have become interwoven 
with the spirit of every true Serbian, it is 
not rare that a peasant who has heard a poem 
but once can not only repeat it as he heard it, 
but also improvise passages ; nay, he can 
at times even compose entire original ballads 
on the spur of a moment of inspiration. 

In Serbian Hungary there are schools in 
which the blind learn these national ballads, 
and go from one fair to another to recite them 
before the peasants who come from all Serbian 
lands. But this is not the true method. In 
the mountains of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, 
and Herzegovina there is no occasion to learn 
them mechanically : they are familiar to 



278 HISTORY OF SERBIA 
all from infancy. When, in the winter even- 
ing, the members of a Serbian family assemble 
round the fire, and the women are engaged 
with their spinning, poems are recited by those 
who happen to know them best. 

The Gusle 

The ballads are recited invariably to the 
accompaniment of a primitive instrument 
with a single string, called a gusle, which is to 
be found in almost every house. The popular 
Serbian poet, Peter Petrovitch, in his master- 
piece, Gorsky Viyenatz (' The Mountain 
Wreath ') uttered the following lines, which 
have become proverbial : 

Dye se gusle u kutyi ne tchuyu 
Tu su mrtva i kutya i lyoudi. 

(The house in which the gusle is not heard 
Is dead, as well as the people in it.) 

The old men with grown-up sons, who are 
excused from hard labour, recite to their 
grandchildren, who yield themselves with de- 
light to the rhythmic verse through which 
they receive their first knowledge of the past. 
Even the abbots of the monasteries do not 
deem it derogatory to recite those ballads to 



NATIONAL CUSTOMS 279 
the monotonous accompaniment of the gusle. 
But the performance has more of the 
character of a recitation than of singing : 
the string is struck only at the end of 
each verse. 

There is hardly a tavern or inn in any 
Serbian village where one could see an 
assembly of peasants without a guslar around 
whom all are gathered, listening with delight 
to his ballads. At the festivals near the 
cloisters, where the peasants meet together 
in great numbers, professional guslars recite 
the heroic songs and emphasize the pathetic 
passages in such an expressive manner that 
there is hardly a listener whose cheeks are 
not bedewed with copious tears. The music 
is extremely simple, but its simplicity is a 
powerful and majestic contrast to the 
exuberance of romance manifested in the 
exploits and deeds of some favourite 
hero — as, for example, the Royal Prince 
Marko. 

There are many bold hyperboles in those 
national songs, and little wonder if they are 
discredited by Western critics, especially in 
the ballads concerning the exploits of the 
beloved Marko — who " throws his heavy mace 



2 8o HISTORY OF SERBIA 

aloft as high as the clouds and catches it again 
in his right hand, without dismounting from 
his trusty courser Sharatz." Now and then 
an English reader would find passages which 
would seem somewhat coarse, but he must 
bear in mind that the ballads have usually 
been composed and transmitted from genera- 
tion to generation by simple and illiterate 
peasants. Most of those concerning the Royal 
Prince Marko date from the early fourteenth 
century, when life and customs were different 
from those prevailing now. 

It is worthy of consideration that the 
history of the Serbian and other Southern- 
Slavonic nations, developed in a poetical form, 
has thus been converted into a national pro- 
perty, and is preserved in the memory of the 
entire people so vividly that a Western 
traveller must be surprised when he hears 
even the most ignorant Serbian peasant relate 
to him something at least of the old kings 
and tsars of the glorious dynasty of Neman- 
yitch, and of the feats and deeds of national 
heroes of all epochs. 



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